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Don't let wood ticks get under your skin

Itís official! Spring has arrived. I picked up a couple of wood ticks while hiking last week, a sure sign of spring.

Getting out into the woods to hike in the spring can be great family fun. Unfortunately, it only takes one wood tick to give you the heebie geebies and leave you feeling crawley all over for the rest of the day. Here are some common sense and effective ways to enjoy your time outdoors and remain wood tick-free.

Wood ticks are dark colored arachnids found in wooded areas, brush, and fields. Ticks feed on the blood of animals and humans. Most ticks are relatively harmless, though several types are carriers of diseases like Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. There are many ways to prevent a wood tick bite and limit your exposure to ticks in general.

Follow these easy guidelines for a safe outdoor experience:
When hiking in heavily wooded areas, stay on paths and walk down the middle of trails to avoid rubbing against bushes and picking up waiting ticks.

Wear light colored clothing, which will make it easier to spot a tick. Wear shirts and sweatshirts with tight collars and cuffs.

When spending extended periods outdoors, check yourself often for ticks. Many ticks can be captured before biting. Ticks tend to travel toward areas of warmth, such as the scalp, skin folds and under arm pits.

Check outdoor dogs and cats for ticks, too. It is not uncommon for a tick to crawl off an animal and on to you. Dogs and cats should wear flea and tick collars during heavy tick seasons.

Trim back large bushes near homes, which are popular areas for all types of ticks from spring to autumn.

How to remove a tick:
The goal of tick removal is to get rid of the live insect in one piece. While the squeamish at heart may be tempted to give the little bugger a quick yank and be done with it, leaving parts of the tick embedded in your flesh will most likely cause an infection. With patience in mind, follow these simple steps:
   1. Wash your hands.
   2. Sterilize a pair of tweezers. This can be done with rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab or by running a lit match beneath them.
   out as youíre pulling. If the tick does not back out on its own, stop pulling, and add a few drops of rubbing alcohol, cooking oil, or petroleum jelly to the surface of the skin. The added moisture will begin to drown the tick, causing him to back out.
   4. Wait. Within five to ten minutes, the tick should begin to loosen its hold.
   5. Pull again. Using the tweezers again, gently pull the tick from your skin.
   6. Examine the tick. Make sure you remove both the head and body of the tick. If you suspect the tick is a disease carrier, preserve the tick in a ziplock bag for examination by your physician.
   7. Cleansing. Once the tick is out, wash the skin area with antibacterial soap or swab the affected area with an antiseptic. Any itching, rash or irritation can be treated with hydrocortisone or antiseptic creams.

Fore more information about wood ticks contact Germaine White, Information and Education Specialist at 883-2888, ext. 7299.

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