Lyme Disease and the Migration of Ticks
Lyme disease is on the rise, with a record number of cases reported every year. Ticks are the main culprit and it's about time we learn a little bit more about these two.
One thing about ticks, not only are they natural suckers (for they feed on blood), but next to mosquitoes, they are the most prolific carriers of diseases for humans. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, tularemia and some hard-to-remember names such as ehrlichiosis and equine encephalitis. I'm not familiar with most of these diseases but what I know of them is enough to make me cringe.
Ticks are spreading. Their natural habitats are the wooded areas of the northeastern states, like New Jersey, Connecticut and New York. But we humans, together with our pets, love to get close to nature. That is why we build our homes farther away from the cities and nearer to forests, mountains and grasslands. And when we have settled, we go out with our pets and go camping and hiking. Unintentionally, we carry back these parasites with us to the suburbs and the metropolis.
Of all the afflictions caused by ticks, it is the number of cases of Lyme disease in people that has annually increased. I believe it has something to do with what I call the migration of ticks. These arachnids-contrary to popular beliefs, they are not insects and are more related to spiders-can easily move great distances. All they have to do is wait for a host, cling to it, and let themselves be carried anywhere.
Do we get Lyme disease from dogs? The answer is no. Even if your dog has the ailment, it is the infected tick that can get us sick. The best prevention is for you to check your pet regularly for ticks. If you do find these troublemakers, follow these steps on the proper way to remove them. You can also apply these in case you find a tick on a person:
HOW TO REMOVE TICKS
- Using a pair of pointed tweezers, grasp the tick's mouth parts.
- Pull back slowly and firmly. A tick can be hard to pull out as it clings tightly to its host. Do not yank it.
- Do not squeeze or crush the tick as it may throw up and force its infective fluids into the host's skin.
- After it is removed, wash the skin area with soap and water then apply an antiseptic.
- Do not throw the tick away. Save it in a jar in case the veterinarian or the doctor needs to identify its species.