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The St. Johns Independent

Be on the lookout for ticks

Transmit diseases

Mid-Michigan District Health Department (MMDHD) is asking residents to be cautious as they head outside this summer. In addition to drinking plenty of fluids and wearing sunscreen, it is important to avoid and be on the lookout for ticks.

Ticks are known to transmit numerous diseases to people and pets, with Lyme disease being the most common.

The most common symptoms of Lyme disease are:

· Fever and chills
· Headache
· Muscle and joint pain
· Bull’s eye skin rash at the site of the bite, which typically appears before the onset of fever. The rash is the first sign of infection and usually occurs in approximately 70 to 80 percent of infected persons.

“Lyme disease and the other diseases carried by ticks can be serious or fatal if not properly diagnosed and treated,” said MMDHD Medical Director Dr. Robert Graham, “so prevention is the key.”

If possible, it’s best to avoid shady, moist areas in woody and grassy locations as these are the preferred hiding spots for ticks. If you do need to venture into these areas, walk in the center of well groomed trails and try to avoid contact with overgrown grass, brush and leaf litter.

Other prevention tips include:

· Wear light-colored clothing so ticks are easier to spot.
· Wear enclosed shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pants into socks or boots.
· Apply insect/tick repellent containing DEET, following manufacturer’s instructions.
· Check clothes and exposed skin frequently for ticks.

Upon returning from potentially tick-infested areas, search your clothes and entire body for ticks. Ticks can attach to any part of the body, but are commonly found in the hairline, ears, waistline, groin, armpits and sock line. Prompt removal of a tick is the best method to decrease the chance of infection.

If you find one attached to your skin, follow these removal instructions: Using fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Slowly and gently pull upward with steady, even pressure. Be sure to pull the tick straight out. Don’t twist or jerk the tick as this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the area and your hands with soap and water and apply an antiseptic to the bite wound.

If the tick is alive after removal, place it in an airtight container with a blade of grass or moistened piece of paper towel and contact MMDHD for further instructions (989-224-3111 in Clinton County, 989-875-1019 in Gratiot County and 989-831-3615 in Montcalm County). Testing of the tick may or may not be recommended; MMDHD will be able to tell you for sure. It is important to note that dead ticks cannot be tested.

If a rash or fever develops within several weeks of removing a tick, be sure to see your doctor.

To prevent ticks from attaching to your pets, use a combination of topical pest repellants as well as frequent body checks. Make sure to run your hands over the animal’s body with sufficient pressure to feel any bumps. Be sure to check around the animal’s ears, chest, underbelly, legs, feet, and tail. Try to avoid wooded or grassy areas when walking your pet.

For more information, visit www.mmdhd.org and click on “Ticks and Your Health.”

Category: News In Brief