Ticks Could Be Trouble This Summer

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter

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By Forrest Saunders

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - There's little that beats a relaxing weekend in the woods. But while you're taking a break, be vigilant, ticks are out in full force this season.

“We’ve seen quite a few ticks. Actually, more this year than other years,” said outdoorsman, Ty Burke.

Through a tick's eyes you’re an easy target for a bite, and here in Iowa, some species are known carriers of Lyme disease.

"They suck up the blood, and then they inject that back into the body. That’s where that transmission can occur,” said Ruby Perin, with Linn County Public Health.

Perin says they've started fielding calls about the little blood suckers. She says if you're worried about Lyme disease, there's one tick in particular to avoid.

"The tick of greatest concern is the blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick," said Perin.

Specifically their kids, called deer tick Nymphs. They're hard to spot at less than 2 mm and feed during the spring and summer months. If one with Lyme disease decides to latch on, you could be infected within two days.

"It's been a nightmare. Life, turned upside down," said Melanie Reiner.

Reiner was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2005. She says she went through flu-like symptoms, headaches, fatigue, and fever.

If left untreated, Lyme disease can spread all over the body, causing joint pain, heart palpitations, and more.

Reiner's urging folks to take ticks seriously. "It is no laughing matter. If you even suspect-- save that tick. If you pull a tick off, save it. Ask somebody, look it up on the internet," said Reiner.

The Centers for Disease Control have some tips for tick prevention. The easiest is buying tick repellant with DEET or, diethyl-3-methylbenzamide. Also, when walking outdoors, avoid tall grass and stick to the center of trails.

For clothing, try wearing long sleeves. Tuck your pant legs into socks and unroll cuffs to cut off places for ticks to hide.

If you find a tick latched on you, or your pet, don't panic. Officials say the best way to remove it is to use tweezers to pull it out by the head.

Entomologists at Iowa State University say they can test it for you. Just wrap the specimen in tissue paper. Add a blade of grass. Then, place it in a zip-top bag and mail it to this address:

Department of Entomology
Lyme Disease Project
436 Science Hall II
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-3222

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