Tick season is here: Take appropriate precautionary measures

Posted at 5:54 PM, May 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-01 17:54:18-04

Ticks carrying disease can be found almost everywhere in the United States and Michigan is no exception. Ticks feed on the blood of animals and that includes us. 

They can cause serious illness by infecting us with bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Lyme disease is commonly spread by ticks and if left untreated can lead to severe problems like heart issues, memory problems, or brain and nervous system problems. Last year there were 221 known human cases of Lyme disease with 2 out of 3 reportedly picked up in our state!!

You’ll find the blacklegged deer tick easily in the western Upper and Lower Peninsulas. But they are on the move, expanding into new territory across Michigan.

Ticks love moist and humid environments like wooded areas or grassy places. You may also find them in your yard in wood piles, bird feeders, and overgrown grasses or shrubs. 

The best way to protect yourself is to prevent tick bites. So here are my prescriptions:

  • Use insect repellent on skin and clothing.  Use 20 to 30% DEET or picaridin products on skin, and permethrin products on your clothes.  Always read directions and follow instructions.
  • Avoid overgrown grass and bushes and walk in the middle of trails.
  • Check your entire body for ticks after spending time outside.  A hand-held mirror can help to view hard to see areas.  Check your pets too as they can bring ticks home as well.
  • Shower within two hours after coming indoors to wash off ticks.  Wash clothing in hot water and dry on high heat to kill any ticks on your clothes.

Do not use your fingers to remove a tick. You want to use tweezers. Grab it firmly and as close to your body as possible.  Then pull it away from your skin using a steady motion.

Wipe the area with an antiseptic and watch for any signs of a fever, rash, muscle or joint aches.

Your chances of getting Lyme disease are very small if the tick was attached for less than 24 hours. But if you experience any symptoms, be sure to talk to your doctor.