Spring increases risk of ticks

Spring increases risk of ticks Spring weather and rainfall provide the conditions necessary for South Dakota's tick populations to flourish, says a health official.

"We find ticks throughout the state but mostly in wooded areas and the tall grass surrounding lakes, streams and rivers," said LaJean Volmer, Disease Prevention Director for the Department of Health. "Spring moisture creates ideal conditions for tick infestations in these habits."

South Dakota reports cases of tick-borne diseases such as tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever every year. Symptoms of tick-borne illnesses may include sudden onset of a moderate-to-high fever, stiff neck, deep muscle pain, arthritis, fatigue, severe headache, chills, a rash on arms and legs or around the site of the bite, and swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the neck. If you develop any of these symptoms after a tick bite, contact your physician.

A tick bite appears as a small red bump with a bright red halo and is usually painless. If a tick is found attached, be careful not to crush it. Instead, remove it by pulling slowly and steadily with tweezers or fingers protected with a facial tissue.

Once the tick is removed, apply antiseptic to the site immediately to prevent infection. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap if you used bare hands to remove the tick. Be especially careful not to touch your eyes before washing your hands.

To prevent tick exposure, Volmer offered the following tips:


* If possible, avoid the natural habitats of ticks.


* If you do spend time outdoors, repel ticks by tucking your pants into your socks. Spray clothing and any exposed skin with a tick repellent.


* Look for tick repellents with the ingredients diethyltoluamide (DEET), indalone, dimethylcarbate or methyl-

pthalate.


* Ticks must be attached several hours to cause infections, so check frequently for ticks when outdoors. Pay special attention to the scalp and folds of skin.


* Protect your pets from ticks with flea collars, tick powders or sprays, or systemic insecticides. Check with your veterinarian to find out which method is best for your pet.


* Apply insecticides and tick repellents to your pet's bedding for added protection.


* When outdoors, check your pets frequently for ticks. To remove ticks from your pets, apply constant traction with forceps or tweezers. If you must use your fingers, wear disposable gloves and wash hands thoroughly with soap and water afterward.

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