[Note: This was published by RVtravel.com previously. Some pertinent comments from our readers have been retained.]
By Russ and Tiña De Maris
If your travels take you to tick country, be on the lookout for these biting and often disease-carrying insects. Adult ticks are most active from March to mid-May and from mid-August to November. They can be active any time the temperature is above freezing. Here are some “tick tips” from Amanda Roome, an expert in ticks with Binghamton University.
Find ticks on your clothing? Put your clothing in the dryer on high for at least 30 minutes. Ticks need moisture to survive, and the dryer will kill them (just a washing machine may not).
Take precautionary steps after you’ve been out in nature
After a trip through nature, it’s a good idea to check for ticks that may have latched on. Take a long, hot shower, which will hopefully wash off any ticks that may be crawling around on you. If any ticks are embedded, you will want to remove them as quickly as possible. Look for them when you’re in the shower. Ticks like dark, moist areas, so be sure to check in armpits, behind your knees, the groin area, and in your hair.
After your shower, use a mirror and check your back or areas you can’t see well. If a tick has bitten you, grab a pair of tweezers, get as close to the skin as you can, grasp the tick firmly and pull it out. However, if it has been attached for a while, it may be difficult to pull out (deer ticks secrete a glue-like enzyme, which “cements” it to the host). If you detach the head from the body, that is okay.
Can’t get the tick out?
Don’t worry. Treat it like you would any other small wound—put some peroxide or rubbing alcohol on it and leave it be. Other methods (e.g., Vaseline, using a match, etc.) are not recommended because these may just agitate the tick, causing it to burrow a little deeper, or worse, cause it to regurgitate (which may transmit any pathogens it may be carrying into you!). If you do remove the tick, be sure to keep it. Just because you are bitten does not mean you have been infected. Put the tick in a zip-lock bag with some rubbing alcohol.
Remove ticks easily from people or pets!
It will soon be tick season! This Tick Twister Remover Set will remove ticks, large and small, without squeezing them, reducing the risk of infection. It does not leave the mouthparts of the tick in the skin. It’s the safest and easiest way to remove ticks and in just a few seconds. Helps prevent Lyme disease. Keep one of these in your RV. Learn more or order.
Go to the doctor
Take the tick, and yourself, to the doctor. They will be able to identify the species. Only the deer tick carries Lyme in the Northeast, but other ticks can carry other diseases, and the deer tick can carry more than just Lyme. Your doctor may choose to send the tick out for testing. The doctor will not test you for Lyme right after a tick bite. Your body’s immune system will take a few weeks to mount a response to the pathogen (if one was transmitted), and antibodies are not detectable right after a bite.
Listen to your doctor. If they choose to get the tick tested, they may treat you if it comes back positive, or they may test you for Lyme (or another tick-borne disease) after your immune system has had enough time to mount a response and the antibodies are at detectable levels. Keep an eye out for potential symptoms of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, and consult your physician if you notice any of the symptoms.
Insect Shield clothing repels ticks and Lyme disease
Watch your pets too! We lost our beautiful 1.5 year old Bengal girl last summer. She became sick and lethargic after returning home from a trip through Iowa, MN, WI and MI last June (2021) we had her outside a few times for short periods on a leash and never saw a tic on her. Our vet was sure she had Bobcat tic fever, 85%fatal to cats. Symptoms begin a week or two after a bite. Thankful that we have lots of pictures and memories!
Hmmm, Sister registered nurse, you can put dawn dish soap on the tick, they do not like the alkaline levels, and not being able to breathe, and will back out. Kill the little sucker. Still, watch your health, if any weird feelings around bite, or physical problems that are new, get to doctor, get in depth blood tests, also Vit D levels, bet money they are low.
It is a misnomer to say only Northeast ticks carry Lyme. This misinformation keeps people from being properly diagnosed. Around 2007 I was working as an editor/reporter for a community newspaper in central Washington state. I wrote a story about Four teen girls in town who were finally diagnosed with Lyme disease after long debilitating illnesses. Another was identified later and although those now young women are mostly recovered this fifth girl from that town, now 32, is in a wheelchair from Lyme. And there were others. Don’t believe a doctor that it’s only in Northeast.
I met a fellow in a campground in his 30’s walking with a cane. I started a conversation with him since I too was using a cane, but for my hip. He stated he has had Lyme disease for several years. As a retired home health RN I realize how horrible this disease can be having providing IV therapy for years to a patient. Don’t underestimate this bug! It’s horrible. Use lots of spray and do a complete examination after being in an area with ticks.
Thank you for your concern, Martha. I think you misread the statement slightly. It says: “Only the deer tick carries Lyme in the Northeast, but other ticks can carry other diseases, and the deer tick can carry more than just Lyme.” So, the article doesn’t say that “only Northeast ticks carry Lyme” or that Lyme disease is “only in the Northeast.”
The CDC says: “Lyme disease is transmitted by the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) in the northeastern U.S. and upper midwestern U.S. and the western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) along the Pacific coast.” (The blacklegged tick is also called a deer tick.)
The New York State Department of Health says: “The three most common ticks in New York State are the deer (black-legged) tick, the American dog tick and the lone star tick. Only deer ticks can carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.”
I hope that eases your concern about what you thought was misinformation. Take care. 🙂 –Diane
If you happen to come to Maine for snowmobiling skiing ice fishing or any other outdoor sport in the winter beware. Our ticks are active year round. the worse tick to get on your body is the deer tick. If you find one of them on you best to see a doctor as soon as possible as they are carriers of a severe disease that at worse can cause death.
PLEASE don’t let that bother you about coming to our great State. Rattlers and a multitude of other poisonous snakes and insect are in every corner of the USA.
Watch out for the “Lone Star Tick.” Very small, with a black body and a white spot on it’s back. If one gets a bite in you, you may develop alpha gal, it interrupts your body in many ways. Worst one for us is an allergy reaction to eating protein sourced from animals with hooves. Becomes a poultry and seafood diet. Anything related to the cabbage family are also a no no.
We know, because we are living with it. No more bacon!
WOW never heard of such an affliction! I just read up on it.
A lot of new and strange diseases developing in our world. Not good.
Thanks for the info, Tom. For those who want to know more about alpha-gal syndrome, read this: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alpha-gal-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20428608 😯 —Diane at RVtravel.com
A Lone Star Tick got me in my backyard in Tennessee. I drool a lot when I smell a steak on a grill and close my eyes when there are adds on tv for burgers and bacon. My Dr says I can try some real meat about 3 years after I was bit. Some people do get over it and I’m hoping I’m one.