These pesky pests carry a wide range of bacterial organisms, viruses, and parasites in their saliva, which the little blood suckers can pass along to you should you be unlucky enough to host one for a meal.
Tick-related illnesses, which include African Tick Bite Fever and Lyme disease, can cause a host of maladies including fever, severe headache, fatigue, swollen lymph glands and joint and muscle pain and can be serious, lasting, and even deadly.
That said, prevention is always the best cure. Here’s how to enjoy your favourite hike or bush adventure without picking up these unwanted disease carriers—and what to do if one hitches a ride out with you.
Ticks can’t fly, jump, or even run. They hang out on leaves, blades, and branches waiting for something to brush by, so they can cling on and catch a meal. When hiking or biking in the bush, if you keep to the centre of the trail or road and avoid brushing up against high grasses or other vegetation, your risk of picking up a parasitic passenger is pretty low. Once you leave the trail the risk raises exponentially as this is where you will find the highest concentration. Ticks are carried by cattle, wild game as well as dogs.
Covering up with clothing can keep them skin contact. If you anticipate being deep in tick territory, use an insect repellant. If you know you’re going deep in tick territory, you can treat your clothes with permethrin which is present in Vital Protection. This prevents ticks from attaching or crawling around on clothes.
Hunt Them Down
Check yourself very carefully if you’ve been walking through tick territory. The bacteria move from the tick’s intestine up into its mouth and then into you and you have about 24 hours to remove them before your risk for disease transmission goes up. Scrub off in the shower and check yourself carefully. If you don’t wash your clothes, at least toss them in the dryer for a cycle at the highest heat the garments can handle.
Get Them Off Safely
With a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick as close to its head as possible and gently pull it straight out without twisting. Wash the area with soap and water and keep an eye on the area. Rashes generally appear within three to seven days, though remember, not all people who get-tick borne diseases get rashes, so if you feel flu-like symptoms, see your doctor. Also, if you find a tick that is embedded and swelling with blood, and Lyme disease is present in area, you can see your doctor for a short course of antibiotics to prevent infection.