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Be Tick Smart (05/14/20)

Ticks are out looking for hosts like you to feed on your blood!

Ticks are out looking for hosts like you to feed on your blood! The recent rainy weather in some parts of North Dakota favors tick development and reproduction, since moisture is critical for their survival. In dry conditions, they are more susceptible to desiccation and death, and populations may decline.

Two ticks that are common in North Dakota include the smaller black legged tick (or deer tick), Ixodes scapularis, and the larger American dog ticks, Dermacentor variabilis (see photographs below). Black legged tick is the species that vectors Lyme disease. Ticks can be a significant threat to anyone’s health if you enjoy hiking, camping, hunting, playing or working outside in undisturbed grassy or wooded areas. Be safe this summer and do periodic ‘tick inspections’ every 2-3 hours when outdoors to prevent tick-borne diseases.

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The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector borne illness in the United States. Lyme disease is concentrated in in the Northeast and upper Midwest. The black legged tick is most common in eastern North Dakota but is increasing in western North Dakota. The North Dakota Department of Health confirmed 56 cases of Lyme disease in 17 counties in 2017 (see map on next page). We can compare that to only 2 and 0 cases back in 2000 and 2001, respectively. The number of positive and confirmed records of Lyme disease in North Dakota continues to trend upwards each year since 2005 (see graph on next page).hort.4 5

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Symptoms of Lyme disease includes:  Bull’s eye rash, headache, fever and fatigue. In a worst case scenario, infections can cause arthritic joints, and affect the nervous system causing facial paralysis, and spinal cord, brain or heart problems. Lyme disease must be treated immediately with antibiotics. It can take 2 to 3 weeks to recovery if treated early. The later you wait for treatment; your symptoms will become more severe and more difficult to cure. For more information, please see the CDC websitehttps://www.cdc.gov/ticks/tickbornediseases/lyme.html

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following strategies for field workers and others engaged in outdoor activities to prevent tick bites:

 

  • Minimizing Direct Contact with Ticks by avoiding woody and high grass areas and walking in center of trails, if possible. Ticks are most active in May through August in North Dakota.
  • Wear light-colored protective clothing, so it is easier to see ticks crawling up.
  • Tuck pant legs into socks.
  • Spray bug repellent with 20-30% DEET or 20% picaridin (synthesized pepper plant) on exposed skin and clothing, especially on lower legs. This should provide some protection up to 12 hours. Or wear clothing treated with permethrin, which can be washed up to 70 times before losing effectiveness. Do not apply permethrin directly to your skin.
  • Quickly find and remove any ticks from body by using a tweezers. Grasp tick close to skin and pull straight up to avoid breaking off the tick’s mouthparts in the skin. Clean bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Apply an antiseptic to the bite site.
  • Inspect yourself every 2-3 hours to find any ticks crawling on you and to remove them before they attach to feed on your blood. Ticks like to hides in hair, behind ears and other areas and may be difficult to find.
  • Wash any clothing that you were wearing soon and then dry in high heat for an hour to kill any ticks. Otherwise, ticks can attach to you later after hitchhiking on your clothes into home.
  • Reduce tick habitat near home.
    • Keep lawns mowed around home.
    • Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns, patio or play areas and wooded areas to prevent tick movement.
    • Exclude wildlife (especially deer) that may be carrying ticks into your yard.
  • Some insecticides registered for control of ticks by homeowners in residential areas (yards) include:  carbaryl (Sevin®), cyfluthrin (Tempo®, Powerforce™), permethrin (Astro®, Ortho® products, Bonide® products), and pyrethrin (Pyrenone®, Kicker®). Always read and follow the EPA approved label on the product container.

 

Janet J. Knodel

Extension Entomologist

 

This site is supported in part by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program [grant no. 2017-70006-27144/accession 1013592] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the website author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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