When Ticks Bite
Summer is the most active period for ticks, making it important for Oklahomans to
be familiar with preventative measures and what to do if bitten.
No repellant is 100% effective, but research has shown the best repellant is one that contains at least 25% DEET, said Justin Talley, head of the Oklahoma State University Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology.
In the event one or more ticks slip past the barrier of protection, proper first aid will involve a pair of tweezers. Use tweezers to grasp and pull a tick out with slow and steady pressure or tick removal devices that do not twist to remove the tick.
“Adult ticks also can be pulled out by hand with slow steady force,” Talley said. “However, smaller ticks such as seed ticks or nymphs should be pulled out with tweezers. Don’t yank the tick out or put any kind of substance or liquid such as Vaseline, bleach or alcohol on the tick.”
Once a tick has been removed, it can be washed down the drain or sealed in a plastic bag and put in the garbage.
“The important thing is to dispose of ticks properly and not just throw them out in the yard,” Talley said. “Even if you squeeze some of the blood out, those ticks can survive and lay eggs.”
Ticks can pass on illnesses such as ehrlichiosis, tularemia, Bourbon Virus, Heartland Virus and Spotted Fever Group rickettsiosis, which includes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
“Anyone who is going outside where there will be ticks is at risk for getting bitten, but we tend to see a higher risk of tick-borne illness in those who are outside on a regular basis, such as landscapers and individuals in production agriculture, such as cattle owners and horse owners,” Talley said.
After spending time outdoors, but before heading indoors or getting into a car, people should check carefully to ensure no ticks are hitching a ride. Unattached ticks can be brushed off the body or clothing.
Once an attached tick has been removed, it is a good idea to seal it in a plastic bag and save it in the event symptoms develop.
“We recommend keeping the tick for about a month,” Talley said. “If symptoms develop, the specific tick can be identified, which can help doctors direct proper treatment.”