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Don’t Let Small Pests Cause Big Health Problems

summerticksLyme Diseaseinsect bitesHealth & Wellness • 2 min read • May 31, 2017 12:00:00 AM • Written by: Kat Smith

Though the summer sunshine may be a welcome sight, summer also tends to bring about an influx of pest activity, particularly among those nuisances that can spread serious illnesses. Ticks are a leading concern among summer pests, because they are sneaky and adept at hiding, and they can spread diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain fever, both of which have serious potential consequences. To keep ticks from ruining your summer, continue reading to learn how to best prevent contact with these pests and take action when you do spot them.

Learn to Identify Ticks

Ticks are very small arachnids, bearing some resemblance to their spider cousins. They survive by feeding on the blood of other animals, which they do by biting and latching on to the skin. Once a tick bites, it will become engorged as it feeds, possibly transferring bacterial infections in the process. Different ticks vary in size and color, but those you’ll most likely encounter will be red, brown, or black in color with round bodies. If you’ve been bitten by a tick without realizing it, you may be first alerted to the bite with flu-like symptoms that can appear anywhere from a few days to several weeks after the bite occurred. Unexplained malaise and fever are the two most concerning symptoms for tick-spread diseases.

Protect Yourself from Ticks

Your first line of defense against ticks is to avoid the areas they live. Despite popular belief, ticks do not jump or fall from trees. They live in the grass and brush, waiting to latch on to prey by perching on tall blades of grass or tree branches. As a person or animal passes by, the tick will climb on and find a suitable spot to bite—typically in hard-to-see areas like the groin, armpits, and scalp. If you are unable to avoid tick-prone forests, use standard insect repellant on your skin and invest in clothing and gear that is labeled as bug or insect proof. These chemical solutions can repel ticks, even when you are in areas where they thrive.

Control Your Environment

Ticks are not only a concern in nature; they can be a concern right in your backyard. Therefore, it’s important to keep grass trimmed, maintain your landscape features, and cut weeds. These measures can also reduce the presence of mosquitos and fleas, so you’ll be making great strides toward overall pest control with environmental maintenance.

Know How to Check for Ticks

Though prevention is your best strategy for tick control, some stubborn ticks may still make their way into your household. Therefore, you should make a habit of checking for ticks on yourself, your children, and your pets. Ticks are most likely to hide in hair where they are well hidden, so do a thorough sweep of your scalp. Cutting your hair short can also help. Tick bites rarely hurt or cause physical irritation, so visual checks are essential.

If you need help identifying a tick bite or following up with medical care after a known tick encounter, you can count on MeMD to be there for you all summer long. With digital medical consultations available around the clock, we ensure that you are never without the care you need to stay well.

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Kat Smith