Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tackling ticks

I am the girl who runs from bees, screams at spiders and will avoid the great outdoors when the biting flies become overwhelming.
But more than anything else, I am scared to death of ticks.
I count my blessings for the fact that I have never seen a tick, never had one on me or a loved one, including my dog. We’re lucky for that and I hope our luck continues.
I like to be armed with information to deal with the worst case scenario, though, so an email forward this morning about an easy way to remove ticks piqued my interest.
First, know that the proper removal of a tick is extremely important. If you grab a pair of tweezers and yank a tick out, its mouthparts or head could get left under the skin. And if that happens, you open yourself (or your pet) up to a host of medical conditions.
“Tick borne diseases are a major concern,” said Dr. Stephen Steep, my veterinarian from the Oxford Veterinary Hospital.
The email I got said to soak a cottonball in liquid soap and press it against the skin where the tick is for about 20 seconds. The tick is supposed to remove itself from the skin and you can simply pull the cottonball away with the tick in it.
“I can’t substantiate whether that works or doesn’t,” Steep said.
He did offer another solution, however.
“What I usually do is, I’ll use a flea spray with pyrethrin and soak a cotton ball,” Steep said.
He holds the cottonball against the affected area and said the pyrethrin temporarily paralyzes the tick, causing its mouth to release its hold on the flesh. Then, the tick can be pulled out without worrying about leaving its head or mouthparts still in the flesh.
“If you can get a tick to release, it’s always better than trying to pull them off,” Steep said.
A challenge to both methods are when ticks are located near a pet’s eyelid. Ticks are naturally drawn to the area because of the high blood flow. Because of the sensitivity of being near the eye, though, methods that use chemicals are not advised.
Steep also advises people to be careful in how they dispose of the tick — don’t let it go or crush it, he said.
“Ticks are notoriously hard to kill,” Steep said. “I put them into a glass jar filled with alcohol and within 24 to 48 hours, they’re usually dead.”
What a resilient little pest.
Yuck. I hope I never have to deal with a tick.

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