Top 10 things RVers Should Know about Ticks

There ARE more ticks in more places than ever before.

Tick encounter rates are soaring, and experts are predicting 2012 to be one of the worst years for Lyme disease transmission due to higher than normal deer tick infection rates.

Deer ticks also are known as blacklegged ticks in the U.S., sheep ticks in Europe, or Taiga ticks in Asia.

Do you know THE BEST ways to keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe?

Back in the day, we had ticks. Big, yucky American dog ticks. They usually crawled to the top of your head, you felt a lump, pulled the tick out, flushed them—or found some other form of revenge—and that was that.

Usually no one got sick. Ticks were mostly just an annoyance, and that’s what people knew about ticks.

American dog ticks are still around but these days, there’s another tick, a tiny blacklegged tick, smaller than a freckle.

It’s also known as the deer tick, and it crawls up under clothes, latches on without much fanfare, and these ticks are LOADED with disease-causing pathogens.

Once attached to people or pets, deer ticks are just hard to find!

Their numbers are on the rise and they occur in more and more places.

The following information is courtesy of the non-profit Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center.

10. Ticks crawl up

Ticks don’t jump, fly, or drop from trees onto your head and back. If you find one attached there, it most likely latched onto your foot or leg and crawled up over your entire body.

Ticks are “programmed” to try and attach around your head or ears. On their normal hosts, ticks also usually crawl up; they want to blood feed around the head, neck, and ears of their host, where the skin is thinner and hosts have more trouble grooming.

9. All ticks (including deer ticks) come in small, medium, and large sizes

Ticks hatch from eggs and develop through three active (and blood-feeding) stages:

  • Larvae – small, the size of sand grains
  • Nymphs – medium, the size of poppy seeds
  • Adults – large, the size of apple seeds

If you see them bigger, they’re probably partially-full or full of blood.

8. Ticks can be active even in the winter

That’s right! Adult stage deer ticks become active every year after the first frost.

They’re not killed by freezing temperatures, and while other ticks enter a feeding diapause as day-lengths get shorter, deer ticks will be active any winter day that the ground is not snow-covered or frozen. This surprises people, especially during a January thaw or early spring day.

Remember this fact and hopefully you’ll never be caught off-guard.

7. Ticks carry disease-causing microbes

Tick-transmitted infections are more common these days than in past decades. With explosive increases in deer populations, extending even into semi-urban areas in the eastern and western U.S. and southern Canada, the trend is for increasing abundance and geographic spread of deer ticks; and scientists are finding an ever-increasing list of disease-causing microbes transmitted by these ticks: Lyme disease bacteria, Babesia protozoa, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and other rickettsia, even encephalitis-causing viruses, and possibly Bartonella bacteria.

Back in the day, tick bites were more of an annoyance but now a bite is much more likely to make you sick.

6. Only deer ticks transmit Lyme disease bacteria

The only way to get Lyme disease is by being bitten by a deer tick or one of its “cousins” found around the world.

Deer ticks also are known as blacklegged ticks in the U.S., sheep ticks in Europe, or Taiga ticks in Asia.

Dog ticks, Lone star ticks, and other types of ticks just don’t seem to be able to transmit Lyme disease.

While that’s good news, it makes saving any tick that you find biting more important so you can identify it. Doing so may save a lot of unnecessary doctor visits and treatments.

Be TickSmart™ Stay TickSafe!

Note: This is Part 1 of a 2-part series about ticks and Lyme disease

Part 2: Top 10 Things Everyone Should Know about Ticks…And Stay Disease-Free

Worth Pondering…

I tried real hard to play golf, and I was so bad at it they would have to check me for ticks at the end of the round because I’d spent about half the day in the woods.
—Jeff Foxworthy

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