With Tick Season Underway, Humans and Pets Alike are at Risk for Lyme Disease

Monday, May 30, 2011

Spring and summer are prime seasons for tick infestations, and with both humans and pets spending more time outdoors, there is an increased chance of being bitten and bringing the ticks indoors. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) reminds everyone, especially pet owners, to be extremely vigilant against ticks in the warmer months. 

"Ticks are more than just a nuisance," says Jim Fredericks, technical services director for NPMA. "Of the more than 800 tick species, about 100 spread bacteria that can cause dangerous diseases, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever."

Lyme disease, the most common tick-transmitted disease in the world, causes symptoms including fever, headache, arthritis, and fatigue. Rocky Mountain spotted fever causes headache, fever, muscle pain, and rash. Both diseases can be life threatening if not properly treated. More commonly, a tick can feed on a host for as long as 24 hours before it falls off, often causing a local skin reaction and sometimes anemia. 

"In the summer months, it is important to check your family and pets for ticks after they spend time outdoors, and take proper steps to control an infestation if you find ticks in your home," says Fredericks. 

The NPMA offers these tips to home and pet owners to avoid a tick infestation:

  • Use a tick repellent when in places where ticks are common, such as in weeds and long grassy areas. Wear long sleeved shirts and pants, preferably light in color, so ticks will be easy to detect.
  • When you return indoors, inspect clothing and skin and wash clothes immediately.
  • Discuss proper tick preventative and treatment options with your pet's veterinarian.
  • If you have symptoms of Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, seek medical attention immediately.
  • If you find signs of a tick infestation in your home, call a licensed pest professional for proper treatment.

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