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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Timely Tips About Ticks

Timely Tips About Ticks

Ticks are part of the arachnid family, the same family as spiders and scorpions. Today there is a lot of concern over ticks, due to the spread of Lyme disease, which is transmitted by the deer tick.

Ticks feed by attaching their mouths to a host, either animal or human, and then sucking on the host’s blood. According to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Web site, “Black-legged ticks are responsible for transmitting Lyme disease bacteria to humans in the northeastern and north-central United States. On the Pacific Coast, the bacteria are transmitted to humans by the western black-legged tick. Ixodes ticks are much smaller than common dog and cattle ticks,” and are more commonly referred to as deer ticks.

Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. The disease often starts as a skin rash, and can progress to more serious stages involving joint, nerve, or heart tissue damage. Antibiotics are usually effective, especially if treatment starts early in the disease process. Lyme disease has now been reported in at least 47 states, mainly in the northeast and north-central states in the U.S.

What Happens If You Find An Attached Tick?
If you find a tick attached to your skin (or your child’s), do not panic. Not all ticks are infected with Lyme disease, and studies have found that if the ticks are infected, they don’t begin transmitting the disease until 36—48 hours after the attachment. Therefore, the sooner you find the tick and remove it, the less are the chances that you will be infected by the disease.

To remove a tick:

Using a pair of pointed precision tweezers*, grasp the tick by the head or mouthparts right where they enter the skin. DO NOT grasp the tick by the body.

Without jerking, pull, firmly and steadily, directly outward. DO NOT twist the tick out, or apply petroleum jelly, a hot match, alcohol or any other irritant to the tick in an attempt to get it to back out. These methods can backfire, and can even increase the chances of the tick transmitting the disease.

Place the tick in a vial or jar of alcohol to kill it. (Put a date on the jar for future reference.)

Clean the bite wound with disinfectant. Then, monitor the site of the bite for the appearance of a rash beginning 3 to 30 days after the bite. At the same time, learn about the other early symptoms of Lyme disease, and watch to see if they appear in about the same time frame. If a rash or other early symptoms develop, see a physician immediately.

*Keep in mind that certain types of fine-pointed tweezers, especially those that are etched, or rasped, at the tips, may not be effective in removing nymphal deer ticks. Choose unrasped fine-pointed tweezers whose tips align tightly when pressed firmly together.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.