Here's an idea: use a lint roller right after being in the woods or in a tick habitat - for people and pets!
Frequenty Asked Questions About Ticks
Q. Eeek! I've got a tick biting me. How do I get it off?
A. It will be easy if you have a pair of fine tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and slowly, steadily pull it out.... even better if you have a tick spoon or other notched device to slip under the tick to slowly drag it out. Before resorting to your fingers, if you have some fine thread or fishing leader you may be able to lasso it below it's "head" to pull it off.
If you have to use your fingers, make sure you don't have any open cuts. Wear gloves to avoid being infected by infected tick fluids. If you are in the woods, use a leaf. Applying heat, Vaseline, alcohol or anything else to the tick won't loosen it, but may well injure you. It’s been shown that squeezing a tick does not cause it to eject more saliva.
Q. Why is it so hard to pull a tick off?
A. When deer ticks bite, they anchor themselves in your skin with this reverse- barbed mouth part called a hypostome.
At the same time, they inject a local anesthetic, an anticoagulant to keep your blood liquid, and an enzyme to dissolve a pocket to pool the blood they are imbibing.
Q. Now I've got the tick off, what do I do with it?
A. If you are sure that it’s a dog tick (prevalent from May through July), there is no need to keep it. Otherwise, it is wise to preserve it in small pill bottle of alcohol, labeled with the date and time you removed it, to show it to your doctor if you become ill later.
People who have removed a tick often wonder if they should have it tested. As stated on the Centers for Disease Control Lyme website: "In general, testing of individual ticks is not useful because
- If the test shows that the tick contained disease-causing organisms, that does not necessarily mean that you have been infected.
- If you have been infected, you will probably develop symptoms before results of the tick test are available. You should not wait for tick testing results before beginning appropriate treatment.
- Tick testing is not 100% sensitive. Negative results can lead to false assurance.
However, if you or your healthcare provider wants to know, here are places where you can get your tick identified and tested.
Q: Can I get Lyme disease again?
A: Yes. Because of high tick abundance in places where they live, work and recreate, some people suffer multiple infections. If you've had Lyme disease once, you should take extra precautions to protect yourself.
Q: Is there a vaccine against Lyme disease?
A: There was one which was effective, but was taken off the market because of unfounded concerns about possible long-term adverse reactions, the requirement for annual boosters, and inadequate market response. A second-generation vaccine is under trial in Europe and may become available in the future. There are effective vaccines available for dogs. But these vaccines are only good against the Lyme pathogen. They do not protect against anaplasmosis, babesiosis, or other bacteria or viruses deer ticks may transmit. A current research priority is the development of a vaccine against the tick itself.
Q: Does weather affect deer ticks?
A: Very much so. Deer ticks won't survive if the humidity goes below 85%. A damp spring will favor the nymphs that will be biting in midsummer, while dry, hot weather in August may dry up nymphs that would otherwise molt to adults in the fall. Deer ticks will freeze under lab conditions at temperatures around 0°F, but deep within their leaf litter refuge in the winter temperatures rarely get that cold, particularly under an insulating cover of snow. As the climate gets warmer, the deer tick life cycle shortens, allowing it to be completed further north where lower temperature have limited its expansion in the past.
Q: What do deer have to do with deer ticks?
A: White-tailed deer are hosts to all three free-moving stages of the deer tick, but their major role is to provide mated adult females with the blood meal that will nourish the development of her approximately 3,000 eggs. They are primarily responsible for the establishment and maintenance of the tick's life cycle. Given appropriate habitat and climate, deer ticks will abound where deer are present, but be rare where they are absent.
Q: Do dogs get Lyme disease?
A: Yes, and both Lyme and anaplasmosis have become a major veterinary concern in Maine. If your dog becomes lame, refuses to move, stops eating, or has a fever, it’s time to see a veterinarian. As with people, antibiotic treatment is very effective.
Q: How can I protect my dog from Lyme disease?
A: First, see if your veterinarian thinks one of the available canine Lyme vaccines would be appropriate for your dog, and if an annual Lyme test makes sense in your area. An initial negative test would provide valuable base line information in evaluating a future infection.
There are a number of tick collars on the market containing a wide and increasing variety of active ingredients. Some have begun to lose their effectiveness, your dog may sensitive to others, while newly developed compounds may have better efficacy and safety. Check with your veterinarian. There are some that should NEVER be used on cats. Find a valuable review here.
Q: Do horses get Lyme disease?
A: They certainly do, and anaplasmosis, as well. Lyme disease has become a major veterinary problem not only for the debilitation it causes, but also for the considerable expense involved in treating large animals with appropriate antibiotics. Although there is no Lyme vaccine for horses, some veterinarians have used the canine vaccine off-label.
Q: How do deer ticks spread?
A: By catching a ride on one of many hosts they feed on. Deer tick larvae and nymphs feed on small mammals like mice and chipmunks that might take them a few hundred yards before they've had their fill and fall off, while deer may transport adult ticks a few miles. But hungry larvae and nymphs also attach to songbirds that feed or nest in tick habitat. A migrating robin or catbird may carry a feeding tick a few hundred miles before it drops off. If deer and small mammal hosts are present where they land, these passengers may establish a new infestation in a previously tick-free area.
Q. How many diseases do deer ticks carry?
A: We know they carry three bacterial diseases: Lyme, anaplasmosis, a newly-recognized illness caused by a spirochete called Borrelia miyamotoi. They also carry a protozoan red cell parasite that causes malaria-like babesiosis, and, rarely, a virus -- deer tick virus -- the agent of a potentially fatal encephalitis.
Q. Are ticks insects?
A: No. Insects and ticks are both arthropods, as are lobsters and crabs, but ticks are arachnids. Except for the larval stage, they have 8 legs while insects have six. Other arachnids include spiders, scorpions and mites.
Q: How long has Lyme disease been around?
A: The first U. S. case of what was later recognized as Lyme disease was reported in the Midwest in 1909, and the DNA of the Lyme bacterium has been identified in the skin of mice captured in Dennis, Massachusetts in 1894. For years before the disease was first recognized in 1975, patients on Long Island suffered from an ailment called "Montauk Knee," undoubtedly Lyme arthritis. The Lyme bacterium was discovered in ticks collected on the island in the 1940s. Further, using molecular genetic techniques, researchers examining the remains of a hunter encased in an alpine glacier for 5,300 years are said to have found the DNA of Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme bacterium.
Q: What’s a wood tick?
A: A common tick in the west is the “Rocky Mountain Wood Tick,” (Dermacentor andersoni) which is similar to our Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis). “Wood Tick” more loosely refers to 4 species in the US, including our Dog Tick. Both species can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and tularemia, but (to date) neither disease has been associated with a tick bite in Maine.