How Do I Safely Remove Ticks?

Deer ticks can transmit Lyme disease - Johnson Pest Control in Eastern TNTicks are one of the most common spring and summertime pests in Tennessee. They’re also one of the most dangerous. Ticks are infamous for transmitting a number of diseases, including Lyme disease. While getting Lyme disease is rare, it can happen when an infected tick is embedded in someone’s skin for upwards of two days. This makes it essential to learn how to safely remove ticks when they bite you or a family member.

This National Lyme Disease Awareness Month, the tick control experts at Johnson Pest Control are here to share all you need to know about safely removing ticks.

What Ticks Transmit Lyme Disease?

Not all ticks transmit Lyme disease. For example, dog ticks transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but not Lyme disease. Deer ticks, also known as blacklegged ticks, are the species known to transmit Lyme disease. These tiny parasitic insects can and will attach to any part of the body but are often found in the groin, scalp, and armpits.

The good news is that when a tick is safely removed within the first 24 hours, the chances of contracting a tick-borne illness are low. It is only when an infected tick has been attached for 36–48 hours can the bacterium be transmitted. Knowing how to promptly and safely remove ticks, then, is essential to stopping the transmission of Lyme disease.

Tick removal guide - Johnson Pest Control in Sevierville TN How Can I Remove a Tick?

Fine-tipped tweezers are the tool to use to remove ticks. This method is backed by both the ASPCA and CDC. When followed correctly, you can safely remove a tick without risk to you or your family:

  1. Firmly grasp the head or mouth of the tick with your tweezers, as close to the skin as possible. Avoid grasping the tick’s body to the best of your ability, as this could inject the tick’s blood into the skin.
  2. Steadily pull the tick outward in a straight motion. Try to not twist the tweezers, as this could dislodge the head, leaving it embedded in your skin.
  3. After the tick is removed, carefully clean the area of the bite, as well as your hands, with soap and water.
  4. For safe tick disposal, place it in a sealed bag or jar with alcohol. Another option is to flush the tick down the toilet. Do not crush the tick.

If a rash develops or you start to experience symptoms, it’s crucial to see your doctor immediately. If the tick was saved, your doctor may wish to see it for inspection.

Professional Tick Control Services in Eastern TN

Ticks may be the last thing on your mind in the spring or summer, but it’s important to learn how you can avoid a bite when you go outdoors. To learn more about tick control or removal, contact the experts at Johnson Pest Control!

Ticks Post Risks Even as Summer Closes Out

American Dog Tick Map
Area Map Provided by Center for Disease Control

As the long days of summer stretch into August, many people across Tennessee will take advantage of the last few weeks of warm weather by spending an increased amount of time enjoying Mother Nature. However, more time outside can sometimes increase the risk of coming into contact with ticks and tick-borne diseases. We want to remind our friends to make tick prevention a top priority before heading outdoors.

Tick-borne diseases, especially Lyme Disease, are a major health threat during the late summer and early fall months. As ticks are most often found in wooded areas and are especially fond of high grass and low-growing vegetation along the edge of trails, we advise everyone to stay on the trails and wear tick repellent and long pants when venturing outdoors. Homeowners should also take steps to make their property inhospitable to ticks by keeping lawns cut low and cutting down weed grasses that may occupy some part of your property.

Dog ticks are the most commonly found tick species in East Tennessee. These ticks are capable of transmitting a bacteria that can cause Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which can be fatal. The Blacklegged Tick, aka the Deer Tick, can also be found in East Tennessee and that is the primary culprit behind the spread of Lyme Disease.

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) offers the following tips for preventing tick bites on your property and while spending time outdoors:

  • Wear a bug spray containing at least 20 percent DEET when outdoors, and reapply as directed on the label.
  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and closed-toe shoes when outdoors, especially in wooded areas or tall grasses. Light-colored clothing will make it easier to spot ticks and other insects.
  • When hiking, stay in the center of trails, away from vegetation.
  • Take steps to keep your own yard tick-free. Keep grass cut low and remove weeds, woodpiles and debris, which can attract ticks and other pests.
  • Inspect your pets regularly for ticks, as pets are susceptible to tick-borne illnesses and health-related issues. Consider applying a monthly treatment to help protect your pets from ticks.
  • Inspect yourself and your family members carefully for ticks after being outdoors.
  • If you suspect you have a tick problem, contact a licensed pest professional who can inspect and recommend a course of action to reduce or eliminate ticks on your property.

If you get a tick bite be sure to check with your health care provider and monitor your body for symptoms. Symptoms can vary in severity and can often be misdiagnosed if doctors do not know to consider a tick bite as a contributing factor.

Bug Bites To Be Concerned About

Bug Bites to Watch Out ForThere are a lot of bugs out there that can bite you (or sting) but what bug bites do you need to be concerned about the most?

1. Deer Tick Bite

The deer tick is the primary cause for Lyme Disease today. Lyme Disease for decades as been more of a northeastern United States issue which has made it difficult for an accurate diagnosis. But in recent years has shown up all over the United States and medical professionals are getting more familiar with the tick bite and Lyme Disease. The primary tick to be concerned with is the Deer Tick (aka. Blacklegged Tick) and the transfer of bacteria from their bite. If you are bit by a Deer Tick then it is a good idea to keep the tick for positive identification and to visit a medical doctor. If you did not notice a tick bite, of a bite without being able to identify the tick, then be on vigil for the distinctive ‘bullseye’ rash.

2. Brown Recluse Bite

The brown recluse spider is one of three venomous spiders in the United States, one of two which we find here in Tennessee (and the Southeast in general). Identifying brown recluse spiders can be confusing to many people. When they bite a person it is usually when the spider has been trapped against a person (in a shoe, under sheets or pillow, etc). The venomous bite is generally not fatal but has been attributed to creating circumstances that lead to death (think of a severe allergic reaction). Most often the brown recluse bite will create a skin lesion. The lesion can be severe enough to require professional medical treatment. If you have a brown recluse bite seek out medical support.

3. Black Widow Bite

The black widow spider, unlike the brown recluse, is quite easy to identify. They are dark black and have a nice bright red splash of color on their back (often hourglass in shape). The black widow spider can be found in areas that have some clutter or coverage that are not disturbed by humans. Basements can be common for inside the house, woodpiles or sheds can be common for outside the home. The bite does not leave big distinctive marks in comparison to what insect bites we have already mentioned. You will likely have pain centering around the black widow spider bite that will shift into the abdomen and back. Cramping, sweating and a host of other symptoms will follow the initial bite pain. Seek medical support with the first 8 hours of a bite. Be sure to try and capture the spider to get a solid identification.

OSHA Black Widow Spider Facts PDF

Other bug bites that you should be concerned about are mosquito bites and bee stings. The mosquito bites could lead to acquiring a disease such as West Nile Virus or Chikungunya. Bee stings can be a huge concern when someone is allergic to the stings. In the case of young children one may not know if they are allergic to bee stings yet, so adequate precautions should be taken.

Lyme Disease Awareness

Lyme Disease AwarenessMay is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Yes, there is a month for everything it seems. As we are closing out May we thought we’d share a few key pieces of information and perspective.

  • Lyme disease is spread through a black legged tick, also known as a ‘deer tick’. Ticks can attach to any part of the human body, but they like those hard to see places groins/armpits/etc. Most infections come from being bitten by nymphs, baby ticks, because they are so much smaller and harder to detect than an adult tick. An adult deer tick can infect a person, but they are more easily discovered and thus less likely to cause harm. The nymphs are most active in spring and summer (they grow up after that) and that is when you see most concerns for Lyme Disease shared. There is no evidence to support the spread of Lyme Disease through other means, so your dog might become infected with Lyme Disease they cannot transfer it to you.
  • If you have a tick bite, and live in a known area (East Tennessee is slowly become more of a common area for Lyme Disease), then you will experience a myriad of symptoms. The big symptom of Lyme Disease is a large ‘bulls eye target’ rash that emanates from the bite center. You may experience fatigue, fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle and joint aches along with your rash. The rash only occurs in 70-80% of all infections, so the absence of a rash shouldn’t keep you from having a concern. The Lyme Disease rash will take about three days to start to appear. If you are bitten by a tick you need to pay attention to the bite area and your overall health. Any of these signs and you should see a physician quickly for treatment.
  • Physicians might use a blood test to determine if you have Lyme Disease, but only if you have a strong showing of symptoms. It is important for doctors not to mis-diagnose you. A treatment of antibiotics in the early stages of infection are generally effective and will lead to a full recovery. 10-20% of infected patients are known to have persistent health issues associated with Lyme Disease. Most of those cases became tougher to treat because of a lag time in treatment.
  • Prevention for all ticks year round is a great strategy for protecting you and your pets from deer ticks and Lyme Disease. Keeping your yard mowed will help keep ticks from getting on you, they thrive in the tall grass and bushy environments. Avoiding tall grassy areas and wooded areas if possible is a best practice. Spraying on repellent with 20-30% DEET will help to repel and kill ticks. Putting permethrin on your clothing and outdoor equipment will help to repel ticks as well. When you get in from the outdoors be sure to do a full body check and bathe thoroughly so that you may discover any possible tick hitchhikers. Check your clothing and equipment as well. Even if you wash clothes ticks have been known to survive and still find a host. Drying clothes on high heat for an hour can kill off ticks if you suspect they might be in your laundry.
  • If you, or a family member, are bitten by a tick then the best way to remove them is with a fine tipped tweezers. Burning them, slathering with nail polish remover or petroleum jelly, or painting them will not give you the results you want, which is to have them off of you as quickly as possible. Take the tweezer blades and fit one on top of the tick and the other underneath the tick and skin. Do not do a side to side, gripping while working with the legs can be troublesome and ineffective. Lift the tick vertically while holding the tick as close to the heads attached point to the skin as possible. Then pull off evenly and firmly. Getting anxious at this point and jerking or squeezing might result in tearing the tick and leaving some portion of their body attached to your skin.
  • After you have removed the tick you can be on the lookout for those symptoms and contact your physician as needed. East Tennessee is not the hotbed for Lyme Disease that the Northeastern portion of the United States is, but it making its presence known more and more each and every year.

So as we wrap up spring and move into early summer be aware of Lyme Disease and the deer ticks so that you can protect your family from both. If you want to know more about Lyme Disease and see some area maps of activity check out the Center for Disease Control’s webpages dedicated to the disease.