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    Tick talk: essential tips for preventing tick-borne illnesses

    Tick talk: essential tips for preventing tick-borne illnesses

    Courtesy Photo | The lone star tick can transmit various pathogens, making them key diseases carriers....... read more read more



    Story by Stacey Reese 

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District

    TULSA, Okla. — Ticks transmit various pathogens, making them key disease carriers. With warmer weather approaching, it is crucial to learn how to protect against tick-borne illnesses.

    Different species of ticks are responsible for transmitting specific pathogens; some can even transmit more than one type of pathogen. While not all ticks are infected, it is crucial to understand the risks associated with tick bites and the methods for preventing tick-borne diseases.

    "Our public use areas are all-natural," said Candi Debruin, nurse for Tulsa District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "We don't use any repellants or pesticides, so the knowledge of ticks and their diseases is key for our recreators."

    In the United States, tick bites are most commonly caused by three species:
    • The black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis)
    • The lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum)
    • The American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis)

    These ticks can carry Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

    Jerry Dewitt, a maintenance worker at Pine Creek Lake, contracted Rocky Mountain spotted fever through a tick bite.

    "I had such severe joint pain I didn't want to get out of bed," said Dewitt. "It took multiple rounds of doxycycline before I got better."

    Fort Gibson Lake Ranger Tiffany Natividad was diagnosed with Alpha Gal Syndrome following a tick bite. This tick-borne disease causes an allergy to all mammalian meat and its byproducts.

    "Though it impacts everyone differently," said Natividad, "my doctor told me it is the leading cause of anaphylactic shock in adults because so many go undiagnosed."

    "Thankfully, my symptoms are not severe, but I have to watch what I eat now," said Natividad.

    She also said it impacts her medications as many contain animal byproducts.

    Ticks undergo four life stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. The larvae, often called seed ticks, are tiny and have six legs. Nymphs, about the size of a poppy seed, and adults have eight legs.

    While larvae rarely transmit diseases, nymphs and adults can do so. Ticks require blood meals to grow and reproduce, and during feeding, they can transmit pathogens to their hosts, including humans.

    Proactive measures are the best way to prevent tick-borne diseases. The Department of Defense's Insect Repellent System emphasizes using repellents on skin and clothing.

    Key steps to protect yourself from tick bites include treating clothing with Permethrin before going outdoors, applying skin repellents containing DEET or picardin, doing routine tick checks and properly removing attached ticks.

    When removing ticks, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, using a steady pulling motion. Following removal, clean the bite area with an antiseptic.

    Following the time outdoors, people should shower and check their skin thoroughly. Placing clothes in a hot dryer for 20-30 minutes can kill unnoticed ticks.

    "When people camp, there may be instances of wearing clothes for multiple days," said Debruin. "You should always check clothing for ticks before wearing it again."

    "Prevention is good, but checking everywhere is the key," said Debruin. "No matter how much you do to prevent getting ticks, if they can find any tiny place to get in, they will."


    Date Taken: 06.03.2024
    Date Posted: 06.03.2024 08:39
    Story ID: 472853
    Location: TULSA , OKLAHOMA, US

    Web Views: 49
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