Protecting the Family Against Ticks
Oklahoma families heading outdoors to enjoy the warmer temperatures should take care
to protect themselves against ticks.
Ticks are active year-round throughout the state, but ticks will be especially active from late spring through the end of summer, said Justin Talley, head of the Oklahoma State University Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology.
“We’re mostly concerned about American dog tick and the lone star tick because these two are involved with tick-borne pathogens,” he said. “Ticks are not discerning when it comes to hosts, which means anyone who is outside, whether for work or play, is at risk for being bitten.”
Oklahoma is a hub for tick-borne disease. In fact, the state carries some of the highest infection rates in the nation for tularemia, ehrlichiosis and Spotted Fever Group rickettsiosis, which includes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Also, the lone star tick is associated with multiple pathogens, including those connected to the Heartland and Bourbon viruses, which have been identified in Oklahoma.
The most effective repellants are products with at least 25% DEET.
“Apply repellant around the ankles, up to the knees and around the waistline,” Talley said. “When in heavy brush, trimming trees or bushes and the like, also put repellant around the neck and all the way to the ankles because ticks will fall out of that vegetation.”
Some natural, plant-based products, such as citrus oil and lemon grass oil, also can serve as repellants. While these options are less effective than DEET, parents may prefer using natural products on children.
“Both adults and children will need to keep reapplying natural products to boost their effectiveness,” Talley said.