Ticks suck (things to watch for and do + what to avoid)

May 31, 2014

Photo: André Karwath aka Aka via Wikimedia CommonsYou may think ticks are insects but they’re actually bloodsucking arachnids. Adult ticks have eight legs and two body segments just like spiders, mites and chiggers.

According to the CDC, most ticks go through four life stages: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, and adult. After hatching from the eggs, ticks must eat blood at every stage to survive.

Ticks that require this many hosts can take up to 3 years to complete their full life cycle, and most will die because they don’t find a host for their next feeding. And ticks aren’t choosy about their host – they can feed on mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

tick_sizes

Did you know…

  • tick watchers – from foresters to disease ecologists – are reporting a population explosion among black-legged ticks, formerly known as deer ticks, this year?! The cause isn’t clear but it could be due to a bumper crop of acorns that caused an increase of vermin (mice, squirrels, etc.) combined with the mild winter, but ticks are out there … and they’re hungry.
  • white-footed mice and other small mammals, not deer, are now known by scientists to be major carriers of Lyme disease?! Birds are major carriers too.
  • University of Virginia researchers claim a bite from the lone star tick, so-called for the white spot on its back, may trigger an allergic reaction … to meat?!

Nasty suckers

Ticks grab onto a host (animals or people walking through brush) and sink their harpoon-like barbed mouth and head into the host’s skin to dine until they’re full of blood. Then they drop off and wait for the next meal to pass by. Since ticks feast on one spot for days, they can spread bacteria and diseases from host to host (like from animals to humans) – even by touching them.

The main threat of ticks is the risk of illness or disease (like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever or tick paralysis) so the best defense is reducing exposure to ticks or finding and removing them as quickly as possible.

Things to watch for…

  • Bite or sting mark or ticks
  • Pain or burning feeling
  • Redness or Swelling or Rash
  • Stomach pain or puking
  • Flu-like symptoms – fever, dizziness, weakness, headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, etc.
  • Change in skin color or bruising or rash (may look kind of like a bulls-eye)

What to do for ticks…

Key things are to find a tick before it feasts for days and to remove a tick slowly with head intact so it doesn’t spew bacteria into the blood stream.

  • DO NOT use petroleum jelly, liquid soap, nail polish or heat – they don’t work!
  • Use tweezers or commercial tick remover (or at least cover fingers with a tissue).
  • Grasp tick close to skin where head is buried – don’t squeeze it!
  • Slowly pull tick straight up until skin puckers — it may take several seconds but tick will loosen its barbs and let go.

                                        tick-removal         tick-removal2

  • DO NOT throw tick away since it may need to be tested! Put it in zippered baggie with moist paper towel, date it, and put in refrigerator.
  • Wash bite wound and tweezers with soap and water.
  • Call local health department or vet to ask if tick needs to be identified or tested. If not, throw away baggie.
  • Watch for rash, infection or symptoms for a week or so.

Things to do to avoid ticks…

  • Wear light-colored pants and long-sleeve shirt (to see ticks), a hat (to keep out of hair) and tuck in (pants in socks and shirt in pants).
  • When hiking, walk in the center of trails and try to avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Use tick repellent with DEET and make sure you spray shoes and socks too.
  • Do full body checks at least a few times a day during tick season and don’t forget to check your pets!
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Inspect and rinse off gear and shoes.
  • The CDC suggests tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. (Some research suggests that shorter drying times may also be effective, particularly if the clothing is not wet.)

TickApp

A handy tick tool is by Dr. Pete Teel, Texas AgriLife Research entomologist at College Station and hero tick stalker extraordinaire. Dr. Teel has created a one-place-for-all info-tool called the TickApp, a central cyber point that can be accessed any time/any day for all the tick information you need whether you are a dog owner, hunter, farmer or rancher, hiker, soldier, or medical professional.

Teel says the mobile smartphone app is available at no charge and is easy to use with little searching required. “Whether you are a healthcare professional needing fast tick identification information, an urban pet owner slogging through the bewildering arsenal of control alternatives or a South Texas cattleman facing financial hardship due to ticks, the app is meant for you,” Teel said in a recent AgriLife update. “It’s all very user-friendly and opens with just six easy-to-follow tabs that are quick to navigate. There’s a brief introduction, then a tick ID tab followed by tabs on tick biology, prevention and protection, removal and finally control and management practices.”

The TickApp can be downloaded at http://tickapp.tamu.edu.

 

Helpful Resources & Sources:

CDC’s Ticks site www.cdc.gov/ticks/

CDC’s Lyme Disease page www.cdc.gov/lyme/

CDC NCID’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases site at www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station’s Tick Management Handbook (71-page PDF)

CDPH’s Don’t Let the Ticks Bite – Curriculum Guide for Teachers

Outwitting the tick boom of 2012 – Philly.com

Allergic to Meat: Lone Star Tick May Make Vegetarians of Some – ABCnews.com

Predators, Prey and Lyme Disease – NYTimes.com 

Novel Animal Reservoir for Group of Tick-Borne Diseases Discovered — And It Lives in Your Backyard – ScienceDaily.com

Smartphone app battles tick problem – Southwest Farm Press

Above appeared in our July 2012 enews – and find more first aid and preparedness tips in our IT’S A DISASTER! book


Buzz buzz baby (first aid tips for insect bites and stings)

May 10, 2014

orange blossom beeWe see bees often here in Southern Arizona – especially when spring is in full bloom. But with bees come the chance of swarms and stings.

We primarily have Africanized bees… but, for the most part, they leave humans alone unless someone disturbs a hive or is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A few years ago Bill and I were out in the front yard doing chores and heard — then saw — a swarm of bees coming down the middle of our street. The swarm then flew across our neighbor’s yard (across the street from us) so we figured it went into the wildlife corridor behind their home.

The next day we discovered the bees were hanging out in our neighbor’s mesquite tree so they called a bee removal team.

Before the team arrived Bill took this great pic of the bee mosh pit. And yes … the below bee ball is solid bees! Then the swarm flew away just before the removal team showed up.

bee ball

Since spring has sprung in many parts of the world, we wanted to share some basic first aid tips about insect bites & stings in general.

Things to watch for…

  • Stinger (Note: honeybees leave a stinger and venom sac)
  • Puncture or bite mark
  • Burning pain or Swelling
  • Allergic Reaction – Pain, itching, hives, redness or discoloration at site, trouble breathing, signs of shock (pale, cold, drowsy, etc.)
  • If a mosquito bite – watch for signs of West Nile Virus (most symptoms appear 2 to 15 days after being bitten)… Mild flu-like symptoms – fever, headache & body aches, Mild skin rash and swollen lymph glands, or Severe symptoms – severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, confusion, shakes, coma, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, meningitis or encephalitis

What to do…

  • Move quickly and calmly away from area if there is a swarm, hive or nest nearby.
  • If a bee sting, remove stinger(s) by scraping it away with credit card, knife or long fingernail. Don’t try to squeeze it out with your fingers or tweezers since this causes more venom to get in the victim.
  • Wash the wound with soap and water or rinse with hydrogen peroxide.
  • Cover with a bandage or clean cloth and apply ice pack or cold compress.
  • Watch for allergic reactions for a few days (see above).

To relieve pain from an insect bite or sting:

Activated charcoal – Make a paste using 2-3 capsules and a small amount of warm water. Dab paste on sting site and cover with gauze or plastic to keep it moist. This will help draw out venom so it collects on your skin. Note, powder makes a black mess but easily wiped off with a towel

Baking Soda – Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda + 1 part warm water and apply to the sting site for 15-20 minutes.

Clay mudpack – If in the wilderness, put a mudpack over injury and cover with bandage or cloth. The mudpack must be a mix of clay-containing soil since clay is the key element, but don’t use if any skin is cracked or broken.

Meat tenderizer – Mixing meat tenderizer (check ingredient list for “papain”) with warm water and applying to the sting will help break down insect venom. (Papain is a natural enzyme derived from papaya.)

Urine (Pee) – Another remedy useful in the wilderness sounds gross (but has a history of medical applications in a number of cultures) is urine (pee) which reduces the stinging pain. Unless you have a urinary tract infection, the pee will be sterile and at the least won’t do any harm.

Some other potential pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory remedies:

  • fresh aloe – break open a leaf or use 96-100% pure aloe gel
  • lemon juice – from a fresh lemon
  • vitamin E – oil from a bottle or break open a few gel capsules
  • store brands – if over-the-counter methods preferred, use calamine cream or lotion and aspirin or acetaminophen

Things to do to avoid mosquito bites …

  • Stay indoors at dawn, dusk, and early evenings when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
  • Spray clothing and exposed skin with repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) – the higher % of DEET, the longer you’re protected from bites (6.65% lasts almost 2 hours; 20% lasts about 4 hours, etc.) Two other repellents are picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Don’t put repellent on small children’s hands since it may irritate their mouths or eyes.
  • Get rid of “standing water” sources around yard and home since they are breeding grounds for skeeters.
  • The CDC says Vitamin B and “ultrasonic” devices are NOT effective in preventing mosquito bites!
  • Learn more about West Nile Virus

 

Above extracted from IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? A Disaster Preparedness, Prevention & Basic First Aid Manual by Bill & Janet Liebsch


Doing another bundled print late May – call if you need custom preparedness books

May 9, 2014

View custom samplesSeveral agencies need custom books for their communities ASAP so we plan to do a large bundled print late-May 2014.

If you or any agencies, businesses or nonprofits you know would like a customized version of our disaster preparedness and first aid manual, please call Fedhealth at 1-888-999-4325 to discuss your needs.

Books make great educational giveaways for employees, customers and local communities, and our customizable tool can help clear out leftover grant dollars that are time sensitive.

We discount our 266-page book 50% to 70% off list (or as low as $4.50 U.S. each) and personalize them for free (in print process [1,000 units & up] .. OR .. with peel & sticker labels on our standard red books [any Quantity]).

You can change the entire outside cover (including the book title) and the first 12 pages can be customized with your contact information, evacuation routes, marketing data, advertisements and sponsorship messages from local partners and more.  (The books are all the same after first 12 pages ~ view some sample covers and pages.)

Also … going forward, we’ll be printing all custom pages in FULL color on glossy paper at no extra charge!

And if you need additional pages, we can insert 48 to 288 color pages in front or back for an upgrade price. This feature comes in handy if agencies or groups want to partner with local businesses, chambers and others to include coupons and discounts for communities … or incorporate other booklets or educational materials inside custom books. We also have some creative revenue sharing ideas to help first responders, volunteers, nonprofits and others.

Again, we hope to send all completed artwork to our printer late May for a late June 2014 delivery.

Learn more or call us at 1-888-999-4325.


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