Last year about this time, someone brought in what most would consider specks of dirt to the office. However the client stated that they were ticks.
Under the microscope, these were tiny nymph stage deer ticks.
It was scary how small these little critters were at one to two millimeters in size, being considerably smaller than the American dog tick that is most common to the Clay and Owen County area.
This was the first time I personally had seen the deer tick. Deer ticks are the carriers of Lyme disease and are more prevalent in the northeast US and upper Midwest, hence being more common in northwest Indiana than the local area. However, according to Dr. Jim Howell, Indiana State Department of Health, about 2/3 of Indiana counties have reported finding deer ticks. Also it should be noted that the larva, nymph and adult stages can be carriers transmitting Lyme disease. There are cases of Lyme disease in Indiana so this tick is of concern to the area.
Individuals with redness around a white or clear center should see their physician to consider Lyme disease. These bulls-eye infections will ultimately become larger upwards of two inches to covering a significant area of one's back for example. In order to become infected with Lyme disease, a tick must be attached at least 24-36 hours. Contrary to popular belief, neither the Indiana Department of Health nor local health departments conduct testing of any ticks for disease. According to Dr. Howell, there used to be testing, but funding for testing ceased so there is no longer testing available. While speaking to Dr. Howell, he commented that most people who acquire Lyme disease never realize that a deer tick had attached to their body.
It is important to be able to identify ticks. Visit www.ent.iastate.edu/imagegal/ticks/ to help with identification. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) website www.cdc.gov is a good place to learn about diseases that ticks can transmit. Once there, type "ticks" where the site allows you to search.
The more common American dog tick is capable of carrying and spreading Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) to its hosts. This type of tick must be attached for 4-6 hours to transmit RMSF to the host. In the spring and early summer, these ticks will hang out on bushes, tall weeds and grass and attach to passing animal or people hosts. Lone Star ticks and deer ticks have been found in recent years occasionally in wooded areas.
Lone Star ticks are most likely found in southern Indiana wooded areas particularly where there are high deer populations. These ticks are thought to be potential carriers of RMSF, tularemia, and Lyme disease, though to a much lesser degree than other primary tick carriers. The brown dog tick is mostly an indoor pest. Hence the name, dogs are the primary host and this tick is found near and in bedding areas particularly.
How can you avoid ticks? One suggestion is to avoid tick infested areas but if you are like myself, I am willing to tolerate pulling several ticks from my clothing and skin in an effort to find mushrooms, pick black raspberries in June and black berries in late July and early August.
Personal protection includes wearing light colored clothing, long pants and a long sleeve shirt such that ticks may be spotted and removed more quickly when they latch onto clothing. It is also important to tuck in shirt tails and even pull socks over pant cuffs if truly trying to protect from a tick attaching to the skin. Insect repellent containing DEET is most effective. Also read the label as there are restrictions for infants and young children on many products. It is best to periodically do a full body scan for ticks and certainly when returning inside. Pets should also be checked before allowing them inside during tick season. Ask your veterinarian regarding the many products for pet tick control.
Purdue publication E-71 entitled "Ticks - Biology and Their Control" provides more specifics about insecticides for tick infested areas. It also lists a six step process for removing a skin attached tick. The only reason to keep a tick after it is removed is to help identify it should the person become sick at some point.
You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 829-5020 x14 in Owen County or 448-9041 in Clay County for more information or publication copies regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for
upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are
ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While most publications
are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time.
June 10 Ribeye Steak/Fallen Officer Owen Community Blood Drive, Spencer
June 12 Ribeye Steak/Fallen Officer Clay County Blood Drive, Brazil, 3-6
June 14 Invasive Plant Workshop (PARP credit), Pfizer-Terre Haute, 9 AM
June 24 Bee Keeping Field Trip-Hunters Honey Farm, 6 PM
June 24-28 Clay City Fair
July 6-12 Owen County Fair
July 11-18 Clay County 4-H Fair