DETROIT (WWJ) – It’s that time of year when ticks are out in full force in Michigan.
Ticks can be quite dangerous, some spreading Lyme disease, which can be deadly of left untreated.
Most cases of Lyme are transmitted by the black-legged or deer tick in the nymph stage, according to Michigan State University Entomologist Howard Russell, when is when they’re “very, very tiny” — as small as a poppy-seed — and quite difficult to see.
‘This is the time of year when the most cases of Lyme disease are transmitted,” Russell told WWJ’s Zahra Huber. “It’s so important if you’re in tick areas, or in areas where you’ve encountered ticks in the past, to conduct, you know, fairly close inspections of yourself and your kids, and anybody who’s been out in tick habitat.”
Russell said that if believe you may have been bitten by a tick, you should look for a small red mark.
“And it’ll look like a little bump or a little tiny scab or a piece of debris,” he said. (Scroll down for more tips.)
Russell said most of the ticks are on the west side of the state, but there have been cases in Southeast Michigan. Last summer they had a case of Lyme Disease in the northeast corner of Washtenaw County, near Chelsea.
Another type of tick seen in Michigan is the American dog tick, which does not carry Lyme disease but can carry other diseases. The American dog tick can be distinguished from deer ticks by the presence of white markings on the back.
[CLICK HERE for more information about different types of ticks from the Michigan Department of Community Health].
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the U.S. every year. Lyme disease affects people of all ages, but is most common in children, older adults and those who generally spend more time outdoors. Symptoms are typically a rash, fever, headache, and chills.
Up to 20 percent of Lyme disease cases can cause lasting symptoms, including arthritis in the joints, cognitive difficulties, chronic fatigue and sleep problems, even after antibiotic treatment, the CDC says.
People can protect themselves against tick-borne diseases by using the following tips:
Avoiding tick-infested areas
* Walk in the center of trails to avoid contact with overgrown grass, brush, and leaf litter at trail edges.
* Protect your pets too! Dogs and cats can come into contact with ticks outdoors and bring them into the home, so using tick prevention products on pets is also recommended.
Using insect repellent
* Apply repellent containing DEET (20-30 percent) or Picaridin on exposed skin.
* Treat clothes (especially pants, socks, and shoes) with permethrin, which kills ticks on contact or buy clothes that are pre-treated. Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
* Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying any repellents.
Performing daily tick checks
* Always check for ticks on yourself and your animals after being outdoors, even in your own yard.
* Inspect all body surfaces carefully, and remove attached ticks with tweezers.
* How to remove a tick: Grasp the tick firmly and as closely to the skin as possible. With a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from the skin. Cleanse the area with an antiseptic.
Bathing or showering
* Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
* Washing clothing in hot water, and drying on high heat will kill ticks in clothing, and help to prevent ticks from coming indoors.
To remove a tick, health officials say to use tweezers, grabbing it as close to the skin as possible and pulling it straight out slowly, making sure its mouth parts are removed. Then, thoroughly cleanse the skin and apply an antiseptic.
The MDHHS says that while ticks can cause multiple illnesses, Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne disease in Michigan. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted by the blacklegged/deer tick.
For more information about ticks and Lyme disease from the state, visit this link.