Ticks; those silent eerie, unseen, quite creatures who generate ubiquitous inexplicable fear and uneasiness among the masses. What do we common folk really know about them or they know about us? The answer to both questions is not very much. For this reason the Tick Management Handbook exist to help guide us thru their perplexing world.
Most ticks do not cause any harm to humans and merely serve as a nuisance. Others can have a significant impact on the health and well-being of the individual it infects. The typical life cycle is one of birth, feeding on an infected animal (no ticks are not born with diseases), a period of dormancy, then feeding again as they grow into adults to lay eggs and restart the life cycle. It is in this latter period where humans are most vulnerable (late spring to summer). To the tick we are just another unsuspecting warm blooded medium meal serving as their means to an end.
Not every tick is a “deer tick” thus, Tick Identification, is important in guiding medical treatment, but many times impossible as most of us are so quick in removing and destroying the violating arachnid that identification becomes a forethought. Oh, by the way soaking the bloodsucker petroleum jelly, lighting it on fire, painting it with fingernail polish or smoking it to death will not work. Therefore, many providers rely on knowledge of the geographic origin of various tick species, length of time in the skin among other factors to aid in choosing the appropriate treatment regimen.
Tick Born Illnesses in the United States not as common as we think but should not be taken for granted as we all have an Auntie Ruth who “had Lyme Disease and almost died.” No reason to carry tweezers to Target® or wrap your kids in Zip-Lock bags, but it is important nonetheless to be vigilant if heading outdoors this summer. Prevention is key: examining and treating our pets, wearing insect repellent, wearing light colored clothing and avoiding high grass and brush are but a few tips to avoid becoming a snack wrap for our eight legged friends.
Wendell John, FNP-C
Practice Manager FastMed Wake Forest