Tick Talk: How to Protect Yourself During Tick Season

May 22, 2024

Emergency Department Visits for Tick Bites 2024

Our warming planet isn’t bad news for all species. In fact, some thrive as temps soar. Unfortunately for humans, bloodsucking, disease-carrying ticks really love a hotter spring.  

“It’s very bad and has only been getting worse,” Susanna Visser of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told The Associated Press. Scott Williams, a tick researcher at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, agreed. “Winters,” Williams explained, “are no longer limiting the tick (numbers).” 

Hospitalizations for tick-borne diseases were near record levels in 2023. Experts predict similar numbers this year as school lets out and people flock to parks and the woods. Ticks transmit diseases via their saliva when they bite people. The longer a tick remains lodged in someone’s skin, the greater the chance of passing an infection along.

Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are the two most publicized tick-borne illnesses in the US. But the tiny arachnids can spread others, too. If you are bitten, the CDC's advice is to quickly remove the tick with tweezers. Next, watch the bite area. If it gets red and swells, or you spike a fever? Go see a doctor.  

As usual, though, the best medicine is preventative. Avoid ankle-height plants (like tall grass and dense undergrowth), wear bug sprays with DEET, and check your body and clothes for ticks after time outdoors. If you do spot a tick on your skin or in your hair, get it with those tweezers. You can also make use of the latest tick-tech. There are phone apps that will identify ticks and walk you through the removal process.  

Reflect: How can we keep ourselves safe from ticks when we play outside, especially as it gets warmer?

What was the problem highlighted in the article regarding ticks? (Common Core RI.5.8; RI.6.8)
a. Ticks are becoming less common due to colder winters.
b. People are not using the latest tick-tech for removal.
c. The CDC does not have enough information about ticks.
d. Ticks are thriving and spreading more diseases as the planet warms.
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