Be wary of ticks in the deer woods this season
It is a little thing, easily ignored, overlooked, or forgotten, but potentially with big consequences – a bite from an infected tick.
And while disease-bearing ticks can be a problem year-round, deer hunters should be especially wary. We spend long hours in the woods, deep off trails, often in heavy cover, and often with back and head propped again a tree. We field-dress out deer kills, which can be carrying ticks in the coats.
We are preoccupied with the hunt and the bag, and often just do not think to check – under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in the hair.
So, consider yourself reminded. Bathe or shower after each hunt and thoroughly check yourself over.
In Ohio, the black-legged “deer” tick can carry the dreaded Lyme disease, which begins with a classic “bull’s-eye” rash. Symptoms of infection include headache, fever, chill, muscle pain, joint pain, and fatigue, all of which also may occur independently for other reasons. Just be mindful, and seek medical attention when in doubt.
Lyme disease is curable but early diagnosis and treatment are important to avoid further health problems. Note as well that Lyme disease is not transmitted by consumption of venison. The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites, according to the Ohio Department of Health. If you find a tick on you, remove it quickly.
If you are bitten, carefully remove the tick, including its mouth parts, from your skin using tweezers, then monitor your health the following days. Old-fashioned removal remedies, such as applying petroleum jelly to the tick, or touching it with a match flame, or using nail polish, have proven ineffective and should be avoided.
The lone star tick, also associated with wooded, brushy areas, may not transmit Lyme disease, health agencies say, but can transmit human monocytic ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and possibly Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Patients bitten by lone star ticks will occasionally develop a circular rash similar to the rash of early Lyme disease, likely accompanied by fatigue, headache, fever, and muscle and joint pains. This condition has been named southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI).
The American dog tick, associated with grassy area, is mostly blamed for carrying Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
If you are unsure of a captured, live tick’s identity, it should be saved in a hard container such as a pill bottle, and taken soon to the county health department.
Finally, some sensible precautions: Tuck your pants into your socks and boots and tuck your shirt into your pants. Check yourself, family, and pets regularly and remove ticks immediately. Use anti-tick products on pets, and ask your veterinarian about Lyme vaccines for pets where blacklegged ticks are found.
The ODH also recommends use of tick repellents on clothing, cautioning to closely read and follow the product label. But use of potent chemicals should not be taken casually and is a personal choice.
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