Bad Year For Ticks
Inside the Outdoors, May 20
, 2011

Word has it that outdoorsmen have been seeking medical help to remove ticks from their person especially around the head and neck area. It seems that these small arachnids are attaching themselves to people when they bend over to pick mushrooms in the woods, for example.

According to the website, “There are approximately 850 known tick species, which can be classified as soft tick and hard tick. Soft ticks are most commonly found in caves or nests. They feed on bats, birds and ground-nesting animals. They encounter humans in campsites and caves. Hard ticks feed upon the blood of mammals, including humans, wildlife and domestic animals.”

It went on to say that “Both tick types bite hosts and suck their blood. Hard ticks pass from one stage of development to another, following each blood meal. One of the most common tick species is the America dog tick. These ticks feed on small mammals during their early development stages but more often transfer to human hosts. They are vectors of the causes of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. They also cause tick paralysis.”

The one species that we hear most about is the deer tick. It is also known as the blacklegged tick. “These are known to be vectors of Lyme disease.”

There is a difference, however, between the two species. The website states, “Although the deer tick is also commonly known as the blacklegged deer tick, deer ticks prefer to feed on the blood of white tailed deer, while western blacklegged ticks tend to choose Columbian black-tailed deer as their hosts.” Thus discussion will be based primarily on the deer tick.

Classified as a hard tick, it feeds on three hosts through its life. “The host drops off the host after feeds, then finds a new host for the next meal,” it said. “Deer ticks are found in wooded areas and prefer to feed upon blood of white-tailed deer.” Here is something of which to pay particular attention. “These ticks wait on leaves and grass blades lining paths frequented by their hosts of choice, and will attach themselves to any passing host they find. They also prefer wet busy areas. As a result, humans often become accidental hosts of deer ticks, as well.”

So what does one do when bitten by a deer tick? Here again, referring to a website (, “The proper way to remove a tick is to us a set of fine tweezers and grip the tick as close to the skin as is possible. Do not use a smoldering match or cigarette, nail polish, petroleum jelly (e.g. Vaseline), liquid soap, or kerosene because they may irritate the tick and cause it to behave like a syringe, injecting bodily fluids into the wound.”

When using the tweezers, grasp firmly on the tick and “pull backwards gently applying steady pressure. Do not jerk or twist. Do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body the tick, since its bodily fluids may contain infection-causing organisms. After removing the tick, wash the skin and hands thoroughly with soap and water. If any mouth parts of the tick remain in the skin, these should be left along; they will be expelled on their own. Attempts to remove these parts may result in significant skin trauma.”

Seeking out mushrooms in wooded areas may be challenging and rewarding, but if one finds he has picked up something more than he came for, such as a tick, it is best to seek medical help from professionals who deal with these problems on a regular basis. Medical facilities are encountering patients regularly during this time of the year for tick removal. It may be wise to seek help at hospital emergency rooms or businesses set up to treat patients as walk-ins. It is very important to seek out help from professionals in as much as they can advise patients concerning Lyme Disease. “Before a clinician is consulted, the person bitten should observe the area of the bite for expanding redness, which would suggest the characteristic rash of Lyme Disease, usually a salmon color although rarely, it can be an intense red.”

As recommended before, seek out professional medical help. One can get the best treatment and peace of mind.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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