By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK– A report from the Oklahoma State University Cooperative extension states that the “most effective front line defense against ticks is a repellant containing at least 25 percent DEET, but no repellant is 100 percent effective.”
However, with ticks most active in the summertime, families should be prepared if someone is bitten by the pest.
If a tick is found on your body or on your pet, it is recommended that “proper first aid involves a pair of tweezers.”
“When you find an attached tick, use tweezers to grasp and pull it out with slow and steady pressure or tick removal devices that do not twist to remove the tick,” said Justin Talley, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension livestock entomologist.
“If tweezers aren’t available, adult ticks can be pulled out by hand with slow steady force. Smaller ticks such as seed ticks or nymphs should be pulled out with tweezers.
“Do not yank the tick out and do not put any kind of substance or liquid such as Vaseline, bleach or alcohol on the tick,” Talley added.
“Putting substances on ticks can cause the tick to salivate more which could potentially increase the risk of the tick transmitting a pathogen.”
Talley also recommends that once a tick has been removed, it should be saved in case symptoms begin to develop.
“We recommend keeping the tick for about a month,” Talley said. “That way, if you begin developing symptoms, you can tell your doctor you were bitten by this particular tick. That gives the doctor a lot of clues and helps direct the treatment.”
Removed ticks can also be washed down the drain or sealed in a plastic bag and put in the garbage.
Talley said, “The important thing is to dispose of ticks properly so you’re not just throwing them out on your property because even if you squeeze some of the blood out, those ticks can survive and lay eggs.’
According to Talley, the conditions are right for a heavy tick season, increasing the concern of tick-borne illnesses such as ehrlichiosis, tularemia, Bourbon Virus, Heartland Virus and Spotted Fever Group rickettsiosis, which includes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Anyone is at risk for being bitten by a tick, but people who are outside constantly, such as landscapers or cattle and horse owners and others in production agriculture, generally are at higher risk for tick-borne illnesses, Talley said.
Oklahomans that spend time outdoors should check carefully that they are not transferring ticks into their cars or homes.
If any unattached ticks are noticed “they can be brushed off the body or clothing,” Talley said.
Pets should also be checked carefully for ticks. If left untreated, tick bites on furry companions may lead to serious health issues such as typhus and Lyme disease.
When with your pet, it is best to avoid heavily wooded or tall grassy areas where ticks can be lurking. Pet owners should contact their veterinarians to recommend what products work best. Daily “tick checks” are advised for dogs that are often outdoors.
For more information, contact the Oklahoma County OSU Cooperative Extension Center at 405-713-1125, or visit the Oklahoma County website.