Pete Teel says ticks are an ever-present part of living in Texas. But the unusually mild temperatures and precipitation much of the state has received during late winter and early spring on the heels of the hottest and driest year on record are proving to be ideal for increased tick activity.
“We’re now entering the peak host-seeking time when immature ticks are on the move seeking hosts. Regardless of what happens now weather-wise, I predict this will be a banner year for tick bites on humans, pets and livestock,” he says.
As is to be expected, mild weather encourages more outdoor human activity, both recreational and occupational, thus increasing the risk of tick exposure and transmission of tick-borne disease, he adds.
Key points to remember in order to reduce the risk of ticks and tick-borne disease exposure include:
- Avoid areas where you know there are ticks.
- Wear long pants tucked or taped into boots.
- Wash clothes that may have been exposed to ticks.
- Use repellents containing DEET to prevent tick attachment.
- Conduct regular tick checks of yourself, children and pets.
- Remove ticks properly.
“It’s important Texans learn the common signs of tick-borne diseases for their own wellbeing and that of their families, pets and livestock,” Teel says. “If you’ve been bitten by a tick, or even if you think you could have been bitten, seek medical treatment if you begin to experience flu-like symptoms including a fever, headache or if you ache all over. Tell the doctor that you suspect you may have been exposed to a tick-borne disease. And finally, if at all possible, save the tick by placing it on a damp paper towel in a container in your refrigerator, so it can be submitted for testing here.”
Teel says those wanting more specific information should access the TickApp, a mobile smart phone app available here.
“TickApp, which is available at no charge, was developed for consumers and professionals, including those in the medical field, seeking essential knowledge about tick identification, biology, ecology, disease associations and recommendations for prevention and control,” Teel says.
“We are receiving word that calls about ticks are on the rise over much of the U.S., so the TickApp, though not as fun as some other apps, might be a good thing to have whether you are at home, work, or on vacation, especially if you are the outdoor type or your pet is.”