by Randy King
The outdoors are beckoning. We have been holed up watching shadows dance on the wall for way too long. It’s the time of year for people to get out and have some fun in the wild. But when you start exploring, just remember to check for unwanted passengers. Tick season has started and will suck us all dry if we are not careful.
Ticks are small arachnids that burrow their heads into a host’s body, typically mammals, and suck blood for food. Spring conditions make perfect breeding grounds for ticks: wet days and mild temperatures make the populations skyrocket.
The problem with having these little devils attached to you, or your pets, is that they do not exactly have the best hygiene. Ticks can carry all sorts of nasty diseases—from Lyme disease to Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Health officials say old-school styles of tick removal, such as petroleum jelly or a hot match, could actually increase disease transmission because they cause the tick to salivate. Instead, they recommend removing the tick by grasping it with tweezers or a tissue and pulling it straight out. No turns to the right or left. Straight out.
When you get out and about this year, take some extra caution to avoid these little buggers. I spray myself down with bug spray, the more deet the better. I buy my dog a collar that makes her taste bad to ticks, and I spray her with tick killer when we are done. Then both my wife and I check her over before we get home. Your dog is more likely to get ticks simply because dogs wander into tick-infested places more often. And if you find a tick on the dog, there might be one on you as well. That is why I shower when I get home and check everywhere—I mean everywhere—for those blood suckers.
Go explore. Just try not to let anything get too attached.