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Beware of Tick Bites This Season

Staying active becomes easier when the weather improves. That means more time and opportunities for lengthy walks and hiking through the great outdoors. You may experience the annoyance of buzzing flies and mosquitoes zooming through your personal space, but what you need to look out for are ticks.

Tick bites can cause serious harm to both humans and animals. The biggest concern is the transmission of Lyme disease, which ticks can pass on to you and your pet. Understanding what ticks are, where they are found, and how to protect yourself, will make your summer hikes more peaceful and worry-free.

The two most common ticks in Michigan are the American dog tick and the blacklegged tick. Whereas the American dog tick is found nearly five times more frequently than deer ticks, the deer tick is considered more dangerous for its chance of spreading Lyme disease. 

These ticks are tiny arachnids that are notorious for their bite. The American dog tick has a flat, oval shape, with a hard shell and is brown with whitish or grey markings. The blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick, is also flat and oval, but has a softer shell. Deer ticks are orangish brown, except for their legs, mouthpart and shield. Both can be found in wooded and grassy areas.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, meaning that it is a human illness caused by parasites, viruses and bacteria that are transmitted by vectors. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans.

If Lyme disease is left untreated, the infection can spread to the heart, the nervous system, and to joints. One common signal of Lyme disease is developing a rash that looks like a bullseye. Fortunately, Lyme disease can be successfully treated by antibiotics.

To prevent ticks from bites, be sure to wear proper clothing when going on a hike. Long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and closed-toe shoes should be worn outdoors, especially in wooded areas and tall grass. Wearing light colored clothing can help spot ticks or other insects if they attach themselves to you. Sticking to the middle of paths and trails can help, too.

Bug spray will also work to ward off ticks, particularly sprays that contain at least 20 percent DEET. Be sure that you are applying bug sprays safely and properly, and follow the directions on the can on how to apply, and when to reapply.

When you finish with your hike, check yourself, and your pet, for ticks. If you do find one, do not yank it off quickly, as it may break off the mouthpiece that is attached to the skin. Instead, remove it with a slow and steady pull. To be sure that you get rid of the tick completely, wrap is in tissue and flush it down the toilet. Then wash your hands and the affected area with soap and water.

If you discover signs of a tick bite, such as the bullseye-shaped rash or any of the associated symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

Finding a tick on your property can be a dominant concern. As hard as you may try to avoid ticks and tick bites, it is difficult to remove them from your grounds. If this is the case, contact Van Den Berge Pest Control at 616-392-7367.

Trust the locally owned, widely renowned experts at Van Den Berge Pest Control for all of your pest needs. With over 100 years of combined experience throughout the Holland, MI-based pest control team, you know you’re in expert hands with our state-certified experts.

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