By Gail Meads, Soil Scientist, GSM Services and Thomas Macfie, Soil Scientist, Soil Science, Inc.
(reprinted with permission from Tree Talks, Georgia Urban Forest Council's monthly newsletter)
Soil Scientists and other outdoor professionals in Georgia are exposed to deer ticks for many months of the year. Walking about in dense woods, briars, old fields, and kudzu patches are obvious places of tick infestations. However, relaxing in the backyard or working in the garden also expose us to many of nature’s little creatures.
The Deer Tick is the carrier for Lyme Disease. The disease is actually caused by the bacteria Borrelia bugdorferi which attacks the central nervous system. The tick usually takes 24 hours to attach and another day or two to feed. The bacteria is transmitted towards the end of this feeding period. An unattached or flat tick does not transmit Lyme disease. The infection does not show up immediately. Sometimes, but not always, a distinctive bulls-eye circles the tick bite.
Another two to six week into the cycle takes place before medical tests can detect Lyme Disease. Often, medical personnel do not detect Lyme’s Disease until later stages when it is much more difficult to control and cure. Early symptoms are fever, malaise, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and joint aches. Typical later symptoms may mimic multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalalgia, fever and even Alzheimer's Disease.
Feeding Deer Ticks, top. Note larger mouth parts
- Tick checks when coming in from the outdoors
- Bathing with a washcloth to dislodge ticks
- Insect repellent
- Protective clothing such as high socks, long sleeved shirts, and long pants.
Safe Tick Removal
- Use fine tweezers to grasp tick as close as possible to the skin.
- Pull backwards gently but firmly, using an even, steady motion. Do not jerk or twist.
- Do not squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick as body fluids transmit.
- Wash the skin wit soap and water
- Leave Remaining body parts alone, the skin will naturally expel them. Removal may cause signsignificant skin trauma.
- Seek professional medical help immediately and point out possible Lyme Disease exposure. Be persistant! Igenex Testing often finds infection that other tests miss. There are over forty types of Lyme Disease and they vary in available detection and severity.