The Mansfield/Ontario/Richland County Health Department is issuing a warning about the abundance of ticks being reported in Richland County. Ticks are a health concern because they can transmit diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease along with other diseases.
Diseases are transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected tick. In the United States, there are many types of ticks but only some of these are known to cause diseases. In Ohio, the most common ticks found are the American dog tick, the Lone Star tick and the brown dog tick. Recently, Ohio is reporting more of the black-legged ticks (aka the “deer tick”) which can cause Lyme disease and anaplasmosis. Symptoms of the illnesses after a bite from an infected tick include high fever, headaches and aching muscles. Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be fatal and Lyme disease can cause long-term nervous system damage. Treatments and antibiotics are available for most tick-borne diseases if they are identified shortly after symptoms occur.
“Last year the unusually mild winter weather caused ticks to appear earlier and in greater numbers than we’ve seen in recent year and this year we are again getting early reports of ticks,” said Matthew Work, Environmental Health Director at the Mansfield/Ontario/Richland County Health Department. “Hunters need to be particularly cautious and check for ticks on themselves or their clothing when returning from the field. People who have cats and dogs that go outside need to check their pets when they return inside the house.”
For more information about ticks, see the following information:
Tick identification chart
Brochure on tick-borne diseases from the Ohio Department of Health
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also has information on ticks at http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/disease
PREVENTING & REMOVING TICKS
The Mansfield/Ontario/Richland County Health Department is urging caution with the prevalence of ticks in Richland County wooded areas. Use the following list for guidance:
Preventing Tick Bites
While it is a good idea to take preventive measures against ticks year-round, be extra vigilant in warmer months (April-September) when ticks are most active. Most tick encounters do not result in a disease as only an infected tick can cause disease, and they need to feed for several hours before transmitting the bacteria.
Avoid Direct Contact with Ticks
• • Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter
• • Walk in the center of trails
Repel Ticks with DEET or Permethrin
• Use repellents that contain 20% or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on the exposed skin for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.
• Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and remains protective for up to 70 washings.
Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body
• Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
• Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
• Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs. Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.
Importance in identifying ticks
IF you find a tick attached to you, it is important to carefully remove the tick without damaging it, and having it identified to determine the type of tick. Ticks can be brought to our department for identification. Make a note of the date it was found and notify your doctor if symptoms occur.
If you find a tick attached to your skin, there's no need to panic. If the tick is flat, it has not fed long, if at all. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers can be carefully used to remove a tick. Try to prevent damage to the tick and put it in a small container or plastic bag with a few pieces of grass for moisture, so it can be identified.
How to remove a tick
• Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
• Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
• After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.