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Ticks ready to feast

Sun., March 29, 2009

Ticks are becoming active in areas around Spokane. Check yourself and your pet after being out.

Ticks usually probe around a potential host for a few hours before choosing a tender spot to sink their mouth parts into your skin for a long, leisurely meal.

If one becomes attached, remove it by firmly pinching its head at the skin and pulling gently but steadily until the tick pulls away with its head, mouthparts and usually a bit of skin attached. It’s OK to use tweezers, but not necessary.

Scrub the bite with soap and water.

I haven’t tried the following technique, but it could do no harm, and it comes from a credible source:

Cover the tick with a cottonball that’s been soaked with liquid soap. Swab it gently for 15-20 seconds. The tick is likely to come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away.

Although tick-borne ailments are rare in this area, they’re certainly possible. The Spokane area is highlighted in medical case studies for a multiple-victim outbreak of relapsing fever. The case stemmed from a group overnight trip to an old cabin, where soft-shelled ticks had prospered from resident rodents.

Symptoms of relapsing fever include chills, headache, fever and fatigue.

Tick paralysis, a locally documented malady caused by hard-shelled ticks in this region, can cause numbness and weakness. The symptoms usually go away when the tick is removed.

Bottom line: If you feel like you’re getting the flu or other strange symptoms of paralysis in spring or summer, consult a physician about the possibility of a tick-borne disease.

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