Lyme disease, which is transmitted by the bite of a deer tick, is a painful, debilitating condition that can cause permanent damage to the joints, heart, and nervous system. Other kinds of ticks, including wood ticks and dog ticks, can transmit other diseases to people and pets which, if less well-known than Lyme, can be equally painful and unpleasant.
Suffice it to say that no one wants to be bitten by a tick, but in order to protect ourselves, we need to be guided by accurate information, not myths. Read on for five common misconceptions about ticks and how to control for the real dangers.
- A tick can land on you by jumping off a tree
Unlike fleas, ticks are completely unable to jump. Instead, they find their hosts by climbing up blades of grass and waiting for something to brush past. Since your pets are low to the ground, they are particularly vulnerable. Wearing light-colored socks and other light clothing can help you spot any pests that have climbed onto you from the grass before they make it onto your skin. Pest control services can further decrease your chance of being bitten by reducing the number of ticks in your yard.
- If you’re bitten by a tick, you’ll feel it
Tick bites are usually not itchy or painful when they occur. That’s why you should always visually inspect yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks after a hike.
- A tick’s head alone can transmit Lyme disease
If a tick attaches itself to you, the preferred method to remove it is to grab it with tweezers or a special tick-removal device and pull it straight out, slowly and gently. Sometimes, however, the head or mouthparts are left behind in the skin. This isn’t as grim as it sounds. Since the Lyme bacteria live in the tick’s gut, the tick’s body is needed to transmit the disease. As long as the body is removed within 24 hours of the bite, you are very unlikely to contract Lyme disease.
- You should remove ticks with a hot match or by suffocating them
Many people believe that you should force a tick to detach itself from your skin by touching it with a hot match, or covering it with nail polish or petroleum jelly to suffocate it. According to the Centers for Disease Control, these methods will not kill the tick or make it less likely to leave its mouthparts behind, and in fact they can be dangerous. Instead, follow the CDC’s guidelines on removing them safely. All you need are fine-tipped tweezers and rubbing alcohol. Pull upward on the tick evenly, clean the area with rubbing alcohol, and dispose of the tick in a sealed container or in the toilet.
- A red bullseye-shaped rash means you have Lyme disease
Folklore says that a red bullseye-shaped rash forms on the skin around the site of a Lyme-infected tick bite. In fact, only 70 to 80 percent of infected people develop the bullseye-shaped rash, so it’s not a reliable indicator. If you develop a fever, fatigue, or muscle aches after a tick bite, you should seek medical attention.
To protect your family from ticks and other outdoor pests in Michiana, call YES Pest Pros. With offices in Elkhart/South Bend, Bloomington and Columbus, our team of pest control specialists has the eco-friendly technology and expertise to prevent outdoor pests from harming you, your family, or your pets. Visit us online or call 574-293-9323.