Local experts discuss tick prevention

MIAMI COUNTY — With warmer weather and more people going outdoors for something to do, there comes with it downside: tick season.

Ticks are most active in the warmer months between April and September. Health Commissioner for Miami County Public Health Dennis Propes said wooded areas or areas with tall grass are likely spots for ticks.

“They’re opportunistic,” he said. “They crawl up to where tall grass and weeds are and as you or an animal walk through — dog, deer, whatever — grab a hold of you and away you carry it.”

He said ticks often make their way to their sock line or waistband and that’s typically where people will find the ticks, as they tend to crawl down one’s waistband or up one’s sock line.

Dr. William Ginn, MD at the Milton Union Medical Center, said many of the symptoms of a tick bite and potential virus, such as Lyme disease, are fairly general such as fatigue, a fever, redness or irritation where the tick is.

“It’s usually within a month (symptoms show up), although it’s easy to misdiagnose Lyme disease or tick exposure,” Ginn said. “Someone may come in after three weeks and not think about tick exposure as a possibility.”

Ginn went on to say the most common diseases associated with tick bites are Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

“Lyme disease entails a lot of muscle soreness, but Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever brings with it a nasty rash, which is where the name comes from,” he said.

Clothing can provide some protection from ticks. Wearing long-sleeved tops can protect the arms, and tucking pant legs into socks and boots can prevent ticks from having easy access to legs.

Repellents are also available which can be applied to both skin and clothing. Those containing 20-30 percent DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) offer several hours of protection.

Propes said with anything, there is a possibility for an adverse reaction that adults may recognize but a child could not adequately communicate to an adult, so choosing the correct bug spray for them is essential.

“With kids you don’t wanna use the wrong bug spray,” Propes said. “DEET is the one that works very well and there are some organic insect repellents you can utilize.”

After being out in an environment which could be home to ticks, it is recommended that you conduct a full-body tick check, especially as it is hard to notice them without actively searching.

“Anytime you go hiking or come in from the woods check yourself since the prevention is going to be key,” Propes said. “You need to use the proper sprays to keep them off of there.”

If a tick gets on an adult of child, prompt removal of ticks is crucial to reducing the risk of infection. Although specialized tick removal devices are available, a regular pair of fine-tipped tweezers is adequate.