Ticks, and why to check for them

A day after my previous exploration, I discovered what most outdoorsmen/women fear discovering a day after a hike: ticks.

I found not one but two ticks near my, how do you say it, nether regions. The second of which I actually found two days later, which goes to show: even after a thorough search, these little arachnids can be difficult to detect.

I bring up this topic because even if you are already aware of the danger that ticks present, I’m willing to bet that a large portion of the population does not know what can happen after just one tick bite.

With that being said, here are a few basics about ticks and why they are a concern:

  1. Ticks are very small arachnids (related to spiders) that bite and attach themselves to the surface of your skin.
  2. Ticks feed predominantly on the blood of warm-blooded animals (birds and mammals). This includes humans.
  3. Ticks are vectors for several diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease

That last fact is very important, especially if you live in the northeast United States (where I live). Lyme Disease is a huge problem (over 200,000 new cases reported per year), and in the northeast US, the concentration of ticks and tick-borne diseases is very high. If you still aren’t convinced, below is a graphic to scare you:

LymeDiseaseMap

Lyme Disease is named for the first detected case, in the town of Old Lyme, CT (image: CDC)

Of course I’m not trying to scare you, but the concentration of blue dots on the map is alarming. I’m just hoping to add a little more awareness to a big concern when it comes to the outdoors. To make you feel a little better, ticks need to be attached for ~48 hours in order to transmit Lyme Disease. Therefore, if you are diligent about performing a thorough tick-check immediately after outdoor activities, then you should not have to worry about anything other than an itchy tick bite that will last for a few days. Also, only two species of tick are known to transmit Lyme Disease: the blacklegged tick (deer tick) and the western blacklegged tick (native to the west coast). If you do find a tick on you, make sure you remove it properly.

I find it amazing that searching for these tiny critters on your body can be critical in preventing a life-altering disease. When I was about 7 years old, I found a deer tick on me (again around the groin) and I developed an ugly brownish-red rash. I remember thinking that the tick was just a mole or a freckle. I didn’t even know that ticks were a thing. After visiting the doctor, I was prescribed antibiotics. Lucky for me the antibiotics worked and I learned my “tick lesson” very early in life. As much as I love exploring, my most recent encounter with ticks reminded me to be careful when it comes to nature. It took me two tick-checks to find two ticks! [WARNING! Semi-graphic detail ahead!] And if I am being honest, I found the first tick while urinating, and the second tick before a shower. Even if you have made it out of the woods unscathed, you aren’t entirely out of the woods until you have scanned your body for these pesky blood-suckers.

One Reply to “Ticks, and why to check for them”

  1. Lessons learned concerning ticks. I had a tick attached to me after being outside on an unseasonably warm day in February. I shot a pain down the inside of my arm and the redness started. Luckily, I got the tick off, went to the doc and got the needed antibiotics. February???? Ticks in February!?!?!?!?!

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