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Ticks: Your Most Common Zoonotic Disease

While ticks are mostly a nuisance, some can carry pathogens. Pathogens are microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses and parasites that cause illness. If a tick infected with a pathogen bites you, disease transmission is possible, and you may become sick.

In addition to Lyme disease, ticks also carry ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and others. Some ticks are known to carry more than one of these diseases, which can lead to multiple infections.

Humans and other non-canine family members can also become infected with the same tick-borne diseases as dogs. These cross-species diseases are known as zoonotic. So, if you live in an area with ticks or if you’ve ever found a tick on your dog, you should also be sure to check yourself and your family. Ticks can also infect White-tailed deer, mice, chipmunks, gray squirrels, opossums and raccoons. Lyme disease is spread through the bite of an infected tick (vector)

Tick borne illnesses are most frequently transmitted between early spring and late fall since ticks are most active during warm months.

How To Protect Yourself from Zoonotic Diseases transmitted from ticks

  • Check for ticks after you’ve been outdoors
  • Ticks can attach anywhere; in particular, they will find spots like: the back of your knee, around waistbands, under armpits or any other constricted place.
  • Ticks start LOW and crawl UP; ticks do not jump, fly or drop from trees, they are down on the ground and crawl up until they find a good spot to attach. Tucking pant legs into socks is a good way to keep ticks on the outside where they may be seen or get brushed off.
  • Use bug repellent on skin not covered by clothes or shoes.
  • Look for repellents with “EPA-registered” on the label. These contain 20% or more DEET. Remember that repellents only last for a few hours, so reapply! Follow the instructions on the label
  • Spray your clothing and gear—including boots, pants, socks, bed nets, and tents—with products containing permethrin, which repels and kills ticks, mosquitoes, and other arthropods.
  • Get rid of any standing water. Check buckets, flower pots, old tires, and even litter. Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so get rid of the water in these areas outside your home.
  • Check your body and your children’s bodies for ticks, and once you find a tick, remove it right away.
  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  • Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick. This can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  • Never crush a tick with your fingers.
  • Dispose of a live tick by flushing it down the toilet, submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/ container, or wrapping it tightly in tape.
  • Don’t “paint” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly.
  • Don’t use heat to make the tick detach from the skin. These methods will NOT work
  • Check your dogs and cats for ticks.
  • To avoid ticks while you’re hiking, walk in the center of trails. Avoid wooded and busy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • When you come in for the day, you should do two things: run all your clothing through a hot dryer for at least 10 minutes, which will kill any live ticks that might be present in your clothing. Then, take a shower and thoroughly check your entire body. As you run soapy hands over your skin, feel for unexpected bumps, which may turn out to be embedded ticks. Pay special attention to hidden spots—behind the ears, hair line, armpits, groin, and belly button. Parents should check their young children.

 

Creating a Tick-Free Zone around Your Home Using Prevention Methods

While deer ticks are most abundant in wooded areas, they are also commonly found in our lawns and shrubs. There are a number of measures homeowners can take to reduce the possibility of being bitten by a tick on their property.

Ticks and their primary hosts – mice, chipmunks and other small mammals like skunks and raccoons – need moisture, a place away from direct sunlight and a place to hide. The cleaner you keep the area around the house, the less likely your chances of being bitten by a tick.

That is why it is vital to make sure to remove any wildlife or pest infestations from your home or yard as quickly as possible, and to make sure prevention methods are put in place to make sure they don’t come back.

Pets coming into contact with wildlife, like mice, could spread contaminants into the home afterward. For example, if you have wildlife living on your property – under the shed, deck etc. then the likelihood of your dog or outdoor cat coming into contact with wildlife carrying ticks, like skunks and becoming infected with a zoonotic disease increases. It is important to not allow your property to present harborage and den sites for wild animals that may transfer ticks to your pets that in turn can pass them on to your family.

Although it may not be possible to create a totally tick-free zone, taking the following precautions will greatly reduce the tick population in your yard.

  • Keep grass mowed.
  • Remove leaf litter, brush and weeds at the edge of the lawn.
  • Restrict the use of groundcover, such as pachysandra in areas frequented by family and roaming pets.
  • Remove brush and leaves around stonewalls and wood piles.
  • Discourage rodent activity. Clean up and seal stonewalls and small openings around the home.
  • Move firewood piles and bird feeders away from the house.
  • Manage pet activity; keep dogs and cats out of the woods to reduce ticks brought into the home.
  • Use plantings that do not attract deer (contact your local Cooperative Extension or garden center for suggestions) or exclude deer through various types of fencing.
  • Move children’s swing sets and sand boxes away from the woodland edge and place them on a wood chip or mulch type foundation.
  • Trim tree branches and shrubs around the lawn edge to let in more sunlight.
  • Adopt dryer or less water-demanding landscaping techniques with gravel pathways and mulches. Create a 3-foot or wider wood chip, mulch, or gravel border between lawn and woods or stonewalls. Consider areas with decking, tile, gravel and border or container plantings in areas by the house or frequently traveled.
  • Widen woodland trails.
  • Have all possible den sites on the property animal-proofed. This includes under sheds, decks or porches.

 

While it is not 100% to make sure you never get a tick and a subsequent illness, following the above steps will significantly reduce your chances.

It’s important to visit a doctor if flulike symptoms or a suspicious rash appear, and to bring the tick in for testing by a state health department to see if it harbors any diseases.

If you think you have wildlife like raccoons or skunks or rodents or mice living on or in your property, it is important to have the issue resolved by calling a professional wildlife control company to deal with the situation.

Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control has been removing and excluding wildlife from homes since 1989.

Call us today to learn how we can humanely remove wildlife from your home or property. 1-877-222-9453.

Proudly Serving: London, Milton, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, Niagara, Kitchener, Cambridge, Sudbury, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Waterloo, Guelph and St. Catharine’s.

 

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About the author:Founder of Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control in 1989. Canada's largest urban wildlife removal and exclusion company. Industry leader and pioneer. Split, Scram, Scoot! However you want to say it, Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control has helped over 200,000 home owners and businesses safely and effectively resolve their wildlife issues. Happy to discuss business and franchising opportunities

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