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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • U of M Extension - Ticks: They’re everywhere and here’s what you need to know

  • This week’s timely tip comes from Katie Klar. Katie is a senior at the University of Minnesota Crookston and is once again working as a summer intern in the Polk County Extension office. Katie was here last summer and found it so enjoyable, she’s back again! Katie hails from Hinckley, Minnesota where her family raises beef cattle.
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  •     This week’s timely tip comes from Katie Klar. Katie is a senior at the University of Minnesota Crookston and is once again working as a summer intern in the Polk County Extension office. Katie was here last summer and found it so enjoyable, she’s back again! Katie hails from Hinckley, Minnesota where her family raises beef cattle.    
        Read on…   
        There are 13 species of ticks in Minnesota that have been identified. Only three of these species are commonly encountered by humans:   
        American dog tick (also called wood tick), blacklegged tick (likewise called deer tick), and brown dog tick. These species are known as hard ticks because the head is visible. Soft ticks, which are usually associated with bats, do not have a visible head.
    Identification   
        Identification of ticks starts with color and size; however, these methods of identification are not always helpful. Color is more useful than size except when the tick is enlarged or engorged. When they are engorged they become stretched and therefore, will be a lighter color than normal.  Size is not reliable because of the different species, the maturity, and the sex.    
        Size may overlap between species especially if the tick is mature or immature. Another thing to keep in mind is that males are always smaller than the females.    
        Males and females can be identified easily as adults. The females’ scutum is relatively smaller compared to the males’. The female scutum is only about one third her body size while the male scutum is nearly his whole body size. The scutum is a hard shield behind the head, which is another reason why they are called a hard tick.
    Diseases   
        Ticks will feed on humans, livestock, and pets. They feed by cutting a small incision in the skin and then insert their mouthparts into the hole. This attaches themselves to the host and some ticks will even secrete another substance – an adhesive, to lock their mouthparts to the host.     Blacklegged ticks or “deer ticks” can transmit diseased organisms into the host. These diseased organisms can cause Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan encephalitis.        
        Although American dog ticks are known to carry the diseased organism that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the U.S., this disease is seldom encountered in Minnesota.
    Removal   
    Page 2 of 2 -     It is important to remove a tick as soon as possible. If the tick is embedded it is possible to be transmitted with a disease, especially when the tick is embedded for a long period of time.    
        To remove a tick properly when attached to a human or pet grasp it as close to the skin of the host as possible without squeezing the abdomen. Use steady pressure when pulling away from the host until the tick is pulled out of the skin. Do not twist or jerk the tick out or there will be a risk of the mouthparts breaking off and remaining in the skin.            
        Always use a germicide, like iodine, to help stop infection. Ineffective methods for pulling out ticks include the use of tape, alcohol, or Vaseline.   
        The tick will not voluntarily pull its mouthparts out of the skin. If there was potential for a pulled tick to transmit a disease, then save it by putting it in a container to be identified.
    Prevention and treatment   
        Ticks crawl onto people below the knees and eventually crawl upwards, so it is important to wear protective clothing like long sleeved shirts and pants. Wear light colored clothes for better identification of ticks and tuck you pants into your socks so that the ticks cannot
    get to your skin as quickly.        
        Stay on trails to avoid areas where ticks are most common. Use repellents from your toes to waist.    
        After being out in tick infested areas check all your clothing and yourself. Check mostly in crevices like armpits, knees, toes, inner legs, head and hair, and around the waist.   
        Prevention for animals includes vaccines, examinations, and products applied to the skin: spot on treatments (#1), repellents, sprays, dips, and impregnated collars. The area where the animal resides may be treated for further protection.   
        For more information, contact us at 800-450-2465, or at stordahl@umn.edu.             

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