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Ticks: Identification & Removal
For anyone who spends time outdoors, ticks are a serious concern. While most adult ticks are only about the size of a sesame seed, these tiny critters can not only leave a nasty bite, but they can also spread diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever. To prevent serious illnesses, it is important to check every person and animal that has spent time outdoors.
Tick Identification Guide
Although many people tend to associate ticks with other insects, such as fleas, they are actually arachnids. Like spiders, ticks have four pairs of legs; however, their bodies are not segmented. With over 800 species of ticks located throughout the world, it is important to be able to distinguish the type of tick that a person has discovered. For example, a deer tick is more likely to carry Lyme disease.
These can be identified by their markings. Adult males will be dark brown in color, and the females will be black with a red-brown abdomen. Dog ticks are another common species that can be identified by brown and white markings on their shields that will appear to be mottled. They differ from deer ticks by a set of eyes located just behind their second pair of legs.
Tips for Prevention
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are several things that can be done to prevent tick bites. First, it is important to avoid known areas where ticks reside such as brushy trails. If you are going to be hiking, then it is best to stay in the center of the trail away from overhanging brush. Second, you can apply tick-repellent to your skin and clothing.
If you find a tick, it is important to take the proper precautions for a safe removal. Simply use a pair of fine-needle tweezers to grasp the tick as close as you can to the skin. Then, pull straight up to remove the tick while taking care to make sure that the mouth is also removed. After the tick is removed, wash your skin with soap and water, and keep a close eye on the site to note any signs of infection such as redness or a bulls-eye rash.
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