Tips for safety as tick season ramps up

WASHINGTON — It’s the season to find those nasty ticks embedded in your skin – – and there may be more this year due to the cold, wet winter.

Mike Raupp, Professor of Entomology at the University of Maryland says he’s already tested a handful of ticks in the past few days, including one found on me! ( WTOP’s Darci Marchese).

The tick, which turned out to be the lone star tick, was engorged with my blood and left a pretty nasty-looking bug bite. Luckily, contracting Lyme disease could be ruled out immediately since the lone star tick doesn’t carry nor transmit it.

So, which ticks can carry Lyme and what do you do if you find a tick?

We get help from “Bug Guy” at the University of Maryland.

Professor Mike Raupp says if you spend any time outside, come inside and do an inspection of your body. If you see a tick, “the first thing you do is get that tick off of you,” says Raupp.

“If you can remove the tick in the first 24 to 36 hours, you’re chances of contracting Lyme disease or ehrlichiosis … or one of these other nasty tick- borne diseases is going to drop to near zero,” he says.

The best way to remove the tick is is to use tweezers.

“I simply grasp the tick as close to my skin as possible and with a slow, steady, gentle pull, and pull until that tick comes out,” advises Raupp.

Raupp says don’t panic if you don’t get all of it out.

“Often times the mouth parts will remain embedded in the skin. Don’t worry too much about that. Once you’ve got that tick removed, it’s no longer going to be able to transmit that disease,” Raupp says.

Once the tick is removed, he says to clean the site well with alcohol, followed by a topical antiseptic like Neosporin.

Keep the tick. An inspection of the bugger by a professional can determine what type of tick it.

“The dastardly black-legged tick– aka deer tick — is the one that’s capable of carrying and transmitting the lyme disease,” says Raupp.

The percentage is fairly high of black-legged ticks carrying Lyme in this area. Raupp says from Maryland and north into New England, there’s a 50 percent chance that this type of tick carries Lyme Disease. To the south and the west of the area, the percentage drops way down, he says.

If you remove a tick that could be the black-legged variety, Raupp says look for the bullseye rash that can surround the bite site. He says there’s a red spot in the middle with a white outer ring and an additional red ring around the white ring.

He says this usually shows ups anytime within the first three to 30 days of finding the tick.

Also, be on the look-out for flu-like symptoms like fever, fatigue, chills, muscle and joint aches. Raupp says if you have these symptoms or the bulls-eye rash, you should see your doctor and get a blood test that will determine if you have Lyme Disease. Some hospitals are also able to test the tick itself.

Raupp himself has been treated twice for Lyme Disease in the last 10 years. He says both times, he was cured by a course of antibiotics.

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s web pages for Lyme disease and ticks.

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