In the months of February and March, as the days get longer and the temperatures rise, our families and pets will be enjoying more frequent outside activities. Even with snow on the ground, deer ticks may be active whenever the temperature rises above freezing. Adult female deer ticks will be looking for their third and final blood meal – don’t become an unsuspecting host!
Frequent tick checks: The single most important step to reduce your chances of contracting tick-borne illnesses is performing frequent tick checks . Be sure to check yourself, your family members and pets after spending time outdoors. The longer a tick is attached, the greater risk of contracting Lyme disease or co-infections.
How to do a tick check: Use the sensitivity of your fingertips to feel for small bumps, starting with a thorough inspection of the scalp, in and around the ears, hairline and neck, arms, armpits, back, torso, belly button, groin front and back, between skin folds, legs, behind the knees and between your toes.
Tick removal: If you do find a tick, use fine-pointed tweezers to gently remove the tick from where it is attached. Pull upward with steady pressure. Do NOT annoy the tick by trying to smother, squeeze, or apply lotion or heat. Those methods will upset the tick and cause it to regurgitate their stomach contents into the host, which increases chances of infection. Maine residents can submit ticks for identification and analysis to the University of Maine Tick Lab. For more information, go to https://extension.umaine.edu/ticks/
Enjoy the winter season, but also be aware that ticks may be active~even with snow on the ground. Prevention is the Best Prescription.