The CDC has issued a warning that the U.S. could be in for a particularly severe season for tick-borne disease. In our area, KSHB 41 Action News recently reported that Kansas City and surrounding areas will likely experience these heavy tick populations because of the mild winters we have had recently. So, what do you need to know to keep your family and pets safe?
Why are ticks dangerous?
Ticks are small 8 legged members of the arachnid family. Ticks come in various shades of black and brown depending on the species. They have a small head and teardrop shaped bodies that will fill with blood and swell as they feed. Ticks must eat blood from mammals, birds, and other creatures to survive. If it is infected with any kind of bacteria, virus, or parasite, the tick can spread it and may pose a risk to humans.
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease with 30,000 cases reported annually. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a bulls-eye rash. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, heart, and nervous system. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is the second most common disease associated with ticks. Two other tick-borne diseases were discovered close to home. Heartland Disease was discovered near St. Joseph, MO and the Bourbon Virus was found in Bourbon County, KS. Luckily, if caught early, most tick bites are not dangerous and antibiotics can stop these diseases in their tracks.
How do you get ticks?
Ticks are mostly found in wooded and brushy areas where high grass is present. Ticks do not jump or fly, but instead grab on as you or your pets pass by. While there are definitely a lot more ticks in backwood areas, it is estimated that three-quarters of tick bites actually occur on your own property because you spend so much more time there.
What precautions should you take against ticks?
If you are vigilant about following safety recommendations and checking for ticks after you have been outdoors, you can enjoy this summer without added worry. The CDC recommends wearing clothing treated with permethrin or using insect repellent with at least 20% DEET. Since most tick bites come from your own property, keep your grass short and your yards clean of wood piles, trash, and debris. You should also check yourself, your children, your pets, and your gear after you have spent time in the outdoors. Ticks tend to migrate to warmer areas, so check the scalp, armpits, and groin area particularly carefully. If you find a tick, remove it immediately. It often takes 24 hours before a tick will attach and start feeding. If the tick has attached, pinch the skin near the tick’s head and use a pair of long-nosed tweezer to grasp and pull the tick out in a slow, steady motion. There is usually no need to see a doctor unless symptoms appear. For your four-legged friends, tick collars can provide some protection, but it is best to see a vet for proper treatment and vaccinations.
Professional Tick Control in Kansas City
Six Brothers Pest Control can help keep your family and pets free from ticks. If you are already finding ticks on your property or just want to prevent them, give us a call and we will be happy to provide service and answer any of your questions.