Tick Bites with Dr. Keith Murphy

Ticks carry many different diseases. The one that everyone knows about is Lyme disease, which is a bacterial disease. But theyalso carry parasites and even viruses. We have both wood ticks and deer ticks in our area. Deer ticks are the ones that are a little bit smaller and wood ticks are bigger. The larger wood tick does not cause Lyme disease. It's those little tiny deer ticks that we are worried about. Most of us would encounter a tick when we are going for a walk outdoors, particularly areas with tall grass. The ticks can climb up a blade of grass and wait for something exciting to walk by, whether it's a deer or a human or a dog. It can be a paved trail with some longer grass or more commonly walking through the woods.

The best things that you can do to prevent ticks from getting on you is number one wearing clothing where you could identify the tick on you, so some lighter colored pants or you can even tuck your pants into your socks and wear tall boots. But most importantly is using insect repellents every time you go out into the woods. There are a few different insect repellents recommended by the CDC. First of all everyone knows about DEET. It's been around a long time and it's thought to be safe for children older than two months even up to 30% DEET. My current favorite is picaridin, which is a synthetic version of a compound found in pepper. You need the 20% version of that. It's thought to be safe even down to infants and it won't wreck your clothing. Or lemon eucalyptus of a 30% strength is thought to be effective as well.

The signs and symptoms of tick borne illnesses can vary since there are so many different infections folks might get, including a fever or joint aches but really the classic thing to watch out for is a bullseye rash that looks like a target. If you see that, you should definitely contact the clinic.

The one thing that I always warn people about up here is that there is this virus that's in ticks. With this virus, the tick can transmit the bacteria into your body within 15 minutes. So it's really important to wear insect repellant when you're outdoors. Still doing tick checks when you get home at night is important but the utmost importance is the insect repellant.

The peak times of the year for ticks are really anytime you can see blades of grass emerging. If you find a tick and it's crawling, most likely it wasn't embedded long enough to cause problems, so just dispose of it. If you find an embedded tick you should remove it right away. It is best to grasp the tick right at the point of attachment, right where it's connected to the skin, so that you have the best chance of removing the head with the tick. If for some reason the head is left behind the head it will be similar to a sliver, where it will cause a local irritation but it won't increase your chances of getting the disease. In that case, if the head is left in, you can leave it there you can keep an eye on it and if for some reason it doesn't work its way out like a sliver, you should call the clinic and we will take care of you.