With the incredible heat we’ve been experiencing this spring, it should be no surprise that the tick season this year will be longer and more populated than almost ever before. In fact, the centers for disease control said that there will be more ticks this season and they’ll be potentially carrying a new illness.
The illness is called Powassan. The Powassan virus is transmitted to humans by infected ticks. Approximately 75 cases of POW virus disease were reported in the United States over the past 10 years. Most cases have occurred in the Northeast and Great Lakes region. Signs and symptoms of infection can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss. Long-term neurologic problems may occur. There is no specific treatment, but people with severe POW virus illnesses often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain.
Campers, hikers, and people who live near woods, lakes, swamps, and almost anywhere that has a deer population are certainly going to have to take extra precautions this year.
Checking over your dog when you get home from any time you take them out for a walk or an extended period of outside play is a must, and also your own legs and ankles. For such small, round creatures they’re very mobile. Ticks hunt their pray, and will follow vapor trails of carbon dioxide from up to a mile a way, and though it’s a tiny one, this parasite is very much like a predator.
The CDC recommends avoiding high grass, walking in the center of trails and using repellent with at least 20 percent DEET.
You should also bathe or shower to remove ticks as soon as possible. Clothing and gear can be treated, as well as dogs.
If you do find yourself bitten, Use fine-tipped tweezers to remove a tick. If you don’t have tweezers, put on gloves or cover your hands with tissue paper, then use your fingers. Do not handle the tick with bare hands. Grab the tick as close you can to it’s mouth, the part that’s stuck inside your skin, and avoid squeezing the belly, as that can pump the infected fluid inside the tick into you.
Make sure to pull it straight back out of your skin and avoid twisting, otherwise you may break the head off inside of your skin. If you fear the tick may be infected, Put the tick in a dry jar or ziplock bag and save it in the freezer for later identification if needed. After the tick has been removed, wash the area of the tick bite with a lot of warm, clean water. Be sure to wash your hands well with soap and water also.