4 Common Myths About Ticks and the Diseases They Carry

People who spend a lot of time outside are generally aware of the common advice for avoiding ticks, but many common notions lack critical information. The purpose of this article is to help separate fact from fiction and help fair out reality from common misconceptions.

Tick Repellents

Sawyer Products SP657 Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent Trigger Spray, 24-Ounce (Spray Bottle Color May Vary)
Sawyer Products SP657 Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent Trigger Spray, 24-Ounce (Spray Bottle Color May Vary)

The active ingredient kills ticks and fleas on contact. This product is for applying to your clothes.

 
Gardening with Guineas: A Step-By-Step Guide to Raising Guinea Fowl on a Small Scale
Gardening with Guineas: A Step-By-Step Guide to Raising Guinea Fowl on a Small Scale

Book on raising guineafowl, a bird commonly used to reduce tick populations.

 
BUG BLOCK FLY REPELLENT QT
BUG BLOCK FLY REPELLENT QT

While the bottle advertises this as a fly repellent, the active ingredient is Promethian, which is deadly to fleas and ticks.

 
K9 Advantix II, Large Dogs, 21 to 55-Pound, 6-Month
K9 Advantix II, Large Dogs, 21 to 55-Pound, 6-Month

Applied once a month to prevent tick and flea infestations.

 

Myth #1: Long pants and Deet is sufficient to protect yourself from ticks

If pants aren’t tight enough to the skin, ticks can get on your skin. They can also get on your skin if you remove your clothes and put them on later.. or put your close back with clean clothes. Long pants covered in Pyrmethian spray is helpful, but if a tick drops from overhead it may find its way to another part of the body.

Myth #2: Avoiding long grass will minimize your exposure to ticks

Yes ticks can live in long grass, but ticks can be found in many other areas as well; with different species prospering in slightly different environments; some in sandy soil, some in the branches of hardwood trees, and some on riverbanks. In order to survive, ticks need a host species to inhabit the area and a minimum humidity.

Myth #3: Only Deer ticks are dangerous as they carry Lyme disease.

Actually there are a number of species that carry Lyme disease. Ticks are one of the few vectors that facilitate blood to blood contact across species. Because of this, they are sometimes referred to as Nature’s Dirty Needle.

Myth #4: Only Deer transmit Lyme disease .

I have believed my whole life that deer are primarily responsible for the spread of Lyme disease, and was astonished to hear otherwise. That unfortunately is not the case. In addition to deer, potential hosts include cattle, horses, dogs and cats, coyotes, bobcats, javelina, lynx, fox, small rodents and even some reptiles!

Given the itching that is caused by a bite received from a tick, one would assume that most mammals would try to remove them. Unfortunately, most animals are not successful. The average mouse has 25 larval ticks, the average squirrel 150 and the average opossum 250. It follows that areas that are rodent/squirrel friendly generally have an increased tick population. Because acorn production helps the mice, chipmunk and deer populations population proliferate, they in turn help the ticks proliferate… serving as Lyme disease vectors (Piesman, 2002).

There has also been speculation that fleas and mosquitoes transmit Lyme, however that remains to be proven.

Piesman, J. F. 2002. Ecology of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato in North America. In Gray, J. S., O. Kahl, R. S. Lane, and G. Stanek, editors. (eds.). Lyme Borreliosis-Biology, Epidemiology, and Control pp. 223–249.CABI International. Trowbridge, England.

Extermination

One of the best ways to prevent the spread of tick-borne disease is to reduce the number of ticks. This of course is easier said than done, however there are a number of remedies that have shown success.

· Probably the most natural way to do it is with guineafowl. These birds consume large amounts of ticks. Two of these birds can clear 2 acres over the course of a year.

· Treat pets with a Promethean-based product. This product will kill both fleas and ticks.

· Place deer feeders around the property that actually wipe a promethean-based product on the deer while he is eating. This can also be done with cattle and other livestock.

Tick Removal Products

An engorged tick after biting a dog.
An engorged tick after biting a dog. | Source

Tick Removal

At the end of the day outside, it is important to check your body for ticks. The faster they are removed, the less likely they are to have transmitted a disease. Be sure to check your scalp. Don’t forget to look at your back as well. You should also check each of your children and any untreated pets. Tick season struck very early one spring, and I went out to feed my horse. I found 37 ticks that he had gotten in one day! Thankfully promethean-based spray for horses is a known killer for ticks. These sprays are generally indicated for dogs and cats as well. Check the label. When you remove the ticks from your animals, make sure they are dead. Many people will drop them in alcohol or bleach. If they are not dead, they may reattach to the next unsuspecting victim.

Use a tweezers or at minimum protected fingers to remove the tick. Remove as close to the body as possible. Once tick is removed make sure that you did not leave anything behind as this can be the cause of a secondary infection. Follow with an antiseptic.Save the tick so that it can be analyzed later if you suspect signs of a tick-borne disease.

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Comments 3 comments

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

This makes me shiver to read it because it is all (every bit of it) too true. It should be taken seriously so I'm glad you posted it.


donotfear profile image

donotfear 4 years ago from The Boondocks

Thank you for writing this article about the danger of ticks and the diseases they carry. I would like to mention that ALL ticks carry diseases, not just a certain kind of tick. Diseases are: Borreliosis (Lyme), Ehrlichiosis , Tularemia, Bartonella and Babesia. Lyme rarely travels alone...thanks again for writing this important information.


Maki 23 months ago

We stumbled over here from a different web address and thought I should check things out.I like what I see so now i'm following you. Look forward to looking over your web page repeatedly.

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