No surprise there: warm weather brings out people, but it also increases tick bites and tick borne illnesses. In fact: if statistics are to be believed, people in the United States are more likely to acquire tick borne diseases in the warm weather period between May through July than at any other time of the year. The CDC also reports more than 25,000 cases of Lyme disease on an annual basis. Unfortunately, in regions which are most prone to tick related diseases; nearly 20 % people do not consider ticks as a major health risk at all.
Different species of Ticks in the US
In the US, there are different kinds of ticks. Come warmer weather, these varieties come out in swarms in search of hosts. Deer Ticks are more common in the North Eastern states. They are known to carry germs that lead to babesiosis, Lyme’s disease and human granulocytic anaplasmosis.
A single infected tick bite can spread more than a single type of germ. The deer ticks remain attached to their host’s skin and Lyme’s disease typically occurs when an infected deer tick remains attached for more than 24 hours. The young ones of ticks are known as nymphs. These are most active in the warm weather months between May and July while adult deer ticks also tend to feed during cooler months of early fall /spring as well as in the winter months when the temperatures are freezing.
The other common variety of ticks in the US is the American Dog tick. This species does not cause Lyme’s disease but may be responsible for Rocky Mountain fever, Spotted fever etc.
Tips for reducing tick bites in warm weather
Preventing ticks and ticks bites is the best solution to help protect you and your loved ones from tick borne diseases during the warm weather. Here are few tips to help you do so:
- Minimize your time outdoors and avoid tick infested areas as far as possible. These include trails with tall grass and leaf litters.
- Despite the warm weather, wear long sleeved clothing, full pants, socks and shoes while hiking. You can even spray your shoes with permethrin sprays to repel ticks. Other effective tick repellents include sprays containing more than 20% DEET.
- Take a shower as soon as you are home to remove attached ticks if any.
- Check your own person as well as your family members and pets for ticks from time to time.
- Eliminate clutter, wood piles, bushes and overgrowth around your home. Mow the grass regularly. If you live near tall grass or woody areas, install wood chips or gravel barriers between these and your lawns.
- Clean areas around your bird feeders and dispose leaf litter under trees and on the ground.
- Treat pets for ticks. You could use tick collars, sprays, shampoos, powders and other monthly/weekly vet-approved products that help repel ticks.
Remove ticks to prevent infections
If you do happen to encounter ticks during the warm weather, the best thing to do is promptly remove the attached ones. This can greatly reduce your chances of getting an infection. Here are a few tips that can help find and remove ticks:
- Check your body and that of your family members after having been outdoors on trails. Take special care and observe areas around the neck, back, behind the ears.
- Use fine tipped tweezers to remove ticks, if any. If these are not available, cover your fingers with a tissue paper and remove the tick. Never use your fingers alone for this purpose as any open cuts or wounds could get infected with the tick’s germs.
- Apply even pressure while firmly grasping the tick’s body to pull it out. Do not squeeze the tick. Twisting or pulling out the tick too rapidly could cause it to leave behind its mouthparts in the skin.
- After removing the tick, disinfect the site of the bite.
- Watch out for signs of fever, fatigue, muscle cramps etc for a few days after the tick has been removed.
Tick bites and tick borne diseases are most common during the warm weather. That being said; these aforementioned precautions should be taken all year round to prevent serious tick borne infections.