Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. Ticks evolved more than 100 million years ago.
Beware of ticks when going into wooded areas or where there’s tall grass because ticks can carry disease. Long pants, socks and closed shoes, plus using insect spray with DEET or permethrin is good prevention.
After being outdoors, look yourself over carefully. Shake out your clothes over the bathtub, to help you see any ticks immediately. You can put items such as sleeping bags into the dryer on high for an hour to kill hidden ticks.
If you find a tick on yourself, remove it immediately. The longer it stays latched onto you, the more likely you could get disease from it. If a tick has hooked on and you need to pull it out, be sure to get it all. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for detailed instructions on removal.
If a tick with Lyme’s disease or other disease bites you, the site might become warm and slightly tender, and you might develop a fever, chills, muscle ache, headache or fatigue. It’s important to report this to your primary clinic or if it’s after clinic hours, go to an urgent care clinic.
Ticks are harmful to pets as well. Pet owners can get prescriptions for anti-flea and anti-tick treatments from a veterinarian.
Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Department of Health.