How Can I Protect My Family from SFTS and Other Tick Borne Illnesses?

east asian tick exterminationTicks spread a number of serious illnesses. In the news there have been reports of SFTS, which is spread by the East Asian Tick that was recently introduce to United States. Currently, this tick is only found in the New Jersey area, and it is not in the Arlington area. However, the tick is expected to spread throughout the United States since it is extremely invasive. The experts are predicting a record tick season in Virginia, which increases your chances of contracting an illness from a tick. There are things that you can do to protect your family from SFTS and other tick-borne illnesses.

Protect Your Yard

One of the best ways to protect your family is to have a tick treatment applied to your yard. This will kill the ticks that are there and also creates a barrier around your yard that will stop ticks from wandering in. Getting rid of any leaf litter in your yard also helps, as does keeping your lawn short.

Dress Appropriately

When you go into areas that are prone to ticks, it is important to dress appropriately. You can do this by wearing long sleeves and long pants. When you tuck your shirt in and your pants into your socks, you give the ticks fewer places that they can come into contact with your skin. Once you leave an area that has ticks, you should check your clothing, because you may be able to brush off any ticks that are on your clothing before they have the chance to attach.

Wear Insect Repellent

Insect repellent is very good at stopping ticks from biting you. DEET is the most effective treatment for ticks. It comes in a number of different strengths. Once your child is two months old, it is safe to use insect repellent up to 25% DEET. If you are older, you can use 40% or higher if you know you will be spending an extended period of time in area with ticks. Be sure to reapply according the package directions.

Check for Ticks

It is important to regularly check for ticks. You should check under your arms, between your legs and behind your knees for ticks. You should also check around your hairline and in your ears. The sooner you find and remove a tick the better. This is because the ticks spread the disease when the regurgitate. If you find a tick, remove it with a pair of tweezers by pulling straight back. Never using gasoline, rubbing alcohol or Vaseline because this will cause the tick to regurgitate into your skin and it will increase the chances of you getting sick.  

How Likely Am I to be Bitten by the East Asian Tick in Manassas?

east asian tick extermination
Image courtesy of Fairfax County via Flickr CC by N.D. 2.0
There have recent reports about the East Asian tick in the news. This tick has just been identified as establishing itself in the United States. This tick species is considered extremely invasive and it is hard to eradicate. At this time the East Asian tick has only been found in New Jersey, so it is unlikely that you will be bitten by this tick in Manassas. However, it will likely spread and it is something that you should be aware of in the upcoming years.

Can Ticks Make Me Sick?

The East Asian tick is a known carrier of the SFTS virus which has not been found in the United States. This virus causes people to become quite ill. Since it is a virus there is not a known treatment, instead doctors will try to manage the symptoms and help you recover. There is a mortality rate of about twelve percent. There are other tick-borne illnesses in the United states including STARI, Rocky Mount spotted fever and Lyme disease. However, these can be treated with antibiotics and cured if caught early enough.

What Areas Are Prone to Ticks?

Experts have predicted a very active 2018 tick season. This means that you should be aware of any areas that may have ticks. They tend to like areas with leaf litter, areas with tall grass or bushes or the woods. You may be more likely to pick up a tick when camping or hunting, but they can be found in your backyard or at your city park too.

How Do I Check for Ticks?

It is important to check for ticks on a regular basis. You should check your clothing as soon as you leave a tick prone area. You may be able to brush the ticks off and avoid bringing them home for you. Once you arrive home, you should change your clothes and check behind your knees, under your arms and between your legs. They also like to attach themselves around your hairline or in your ears.

What Do I Do If I Find a Tick?

You should only remove the tick with tweezers by pulling straight back. Do not twist the tick to make it come loose, because it can leave its head embedded in your skin which can cause an infection. Once the tick is detached, you should dispose of it properly. You should not crush it with your hands because this increase the chances of you contracting an illness. If you start to develop signs of a tick-borne illness which usually includes a fever, you should seek medical attention and tell your doctor you were bitten by a tick. Another recommendation is to have a tick exterminator remove ticks from around your yard.