The summer months of June, July, and August are peak time for ticks. The Center for Disease Control says that this summer has the potential to be a particularly severe season for ticks and tick-borne diseases. Tulsa World also recently reported that the Oklahoma Department of Health alerted citizens that recent mild winters combined with the wet spring has created potential tick dangers. What do you need to know and how can you prevent tick bites?
Ticks are related to spiders and are members of the arachnid family. This means that, like spiders, they have eight legs. Most ticks are either brown or black and have orange or red markings along their oval shaped body. Ticks survive by eating the blood of mammals and other creatures. When a tick is infected with viruses or bacteria, it can spread these to its latest meal (potentially you or your pet) via the blood.
Dangers Associated with Ticks
There are many diseases carried by ticks that can be transmitted to humans and pets including lesser known ones like tularemia, ehrlichiosis, STARI, and Heartland Disease. Below is some basic information about the two most common diseases associated with ticks. While not all tick bites are harmful, it is good to know what to look for.
30,000 cases of Lyme Disease are reported yearly, with many other people not realizing that they have contracted it. Common symptoms of Lyme Disease include: fever, headache, fatigue, and a bull’s-eye rash. If left untreated, this disease can eventually affect the nervous system, joints, and even the heart. Black-legged ticks are usually responsible for its transmission.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Dog ticks are associated most with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It was discovered in Montana (hence the name), but Oklahoma actually ranks as one of the states with the highest rates of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It is also the disease that is most often fatal that is associated with ticks. In this case, symptoms include: fever, malaise, and a rash. If you develop any of these symptoms after receiving a tick bite, see a doctor immediately.
Aside from using a reputable pest control service, ticks need not be dangerous or worrisome if some basic recommendations are followed. Ticks tend to live in wooded areas with thick brush and tall grass. If you are hiking or doing outdoor activities, stay in the center of trails to avoid rubbing up against brush that contains ticks. It is also advisable to use an insect repellent that has greater than 20% DEET or treat your clothing with permethrin. In your own backyard, you can prevent tick bites by keeping your grass short and applying pesticides as needed. You should also remove any old wood, trash, or brush from your yard.
The best prevention of all is to perform regular tick checks after you have been outdoors. If you find a tick on you, your children, or your pets, remove it right away. If it has already burrowed into your skin, the CDC recommends using a pair of long tweezers to pull it out with a constant, slow motion. There is no need to visit a doctor unless symptoms of fever or rash appear.
If you are seeing ticks around your property or are hoping to keep your yard tick free, call Midwest Pest Control and talk to our specialists about what can be done. We service the greater Tulsa area including the cities of Broken Arrow, Bixby, Claremore, and Owasso. We also have an office in northwest Arkansas for all your pest control needs. We are here to help make sure that your family and pets are safe from ticks this summer.