If you’re spending the holiday weekend outdoors, be extra cautious of ticks. A Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine tick expert says in some areas, you can be exposed to one a minute.
“There are areas in this part of the country that the tick exposure can truly be massive,” said Michael Dryden, university distinguished professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology and one of the world’s foremost experts on the pest. “You can walk into areas and literally encounter dozens or hundreds of ticks.”
Those heavily infested tick areas generally have a heavy tree canopy with good vegetation, some type of water source, adequate humidity and wildlife, particularly whitetail deer and turkeys. Despite the popular myth, Dryden says ticks do not fall from trees.
“Many people believe that ticks fall out of trees,” he said. “They do not do that. What happens is these ticks get on us and they crawl upward until they hit bare skin. The back of the neck is often the first bare skin they find, which leads people to believe they dropped down.”
Dryden suggests avoiding these areas during the summer. If that’s not an option, you can buy insect repellant to deter ticks. Dryden says to spray it on the inside of your pant legs, on your socks, ankles and shoes. Then, roll your pant legs into your socks to reduce the amount of exposed skin. Also, check yourself daily for ticks.
“Sometimes that’s the best thing we can do is to inspect ourselves because many of these diseases take a day or longer after the ticks attach to be transmitted,” Dryden said.
Don’t forget about your pets. Cats and dogs are also susceptible to tick-transmitted diseases. Speak with your veterinarian to find out the best type of tick management product for your pet.