By LARRY S. MOORE
My Dad used to say if they dropped “the bomb” the only things that would survive are cockroaches and palmetto bugs. After hearing Dr. Glenn Needham, OSU entomologist, explain ticks can live up to three years without feeding, I might add them to the list. The OSU College of Veterinary Medicine is doing testing known as the Ohio Tick Project. The project seeks to educate outdoor people, health care professionals and vets about ticks.
“Ticks impact the landscape across the country. We don’t want to scare people but we are identifying where the Black Legged Ticks are found. The purpose is to provide education and raise awareness in these areas,” Needham said. “We are keenly aware that we have a lot of wonderful outdoor places. We want to encourage people to get outdoors but understand they could pick up a tick. Everyone should know what to do to decrease the chances of contracting Lyme Disease.”
The Black Legged Tick has not been found in Scioto County. It is in other areas of Ohio and spreading across Ohio at a rate of about seven miles per year. In past years, the cases of Lyme disease are normally associated with people who have traveled outside Ohio. The number of human cases of Lyme Disease in Ohio is normally fewer than 60 per year. Health professionals believe there might be an increase in dog or horse cases before any increase of incidents in humans.
A bulls-eye rash is an indication of a tick bite. There may be no other symptoms or you may become sick with flu-like symptoms. The rash can fade and return. The rash is likely to be an area greater than 2.5-inches and stay red for a long time. It will not itch or hurt but will be warm to the touch. Severe cases might have partial facial paralysis.
“If you find a tick, save it and take it to the county OSU Extension Office or the county health department for positive identification and testing,” Needham said. “Ticks feed only on blood. It may take up to 10 days for a tick to feed completely and become fully engorged. Females can pass diseases they are carrying to their offspring. However the good news is that Lyme Disease is not transmitted from the female to her offspring.”
The Black Legged Tick is very small, about one-third the size of the dog tick, and has a two-year lifecycle. Dog ticks tend to be in the hair line around the head and neck but the Black Legged Tick might be found anywhere the skin is exposed. The Black Legged Tick will be active if the temperature is over 40 degrees. Removing ticks is best accomplished by using tweezers to pull them out. If you get a patch of something that looks like skin with the tick, it is likely the “cement” the tick excretes when it attaches. It is similar to super glue that ensures the tick is firmly on the host and can suck the blood without getting air. Of course, wash with soap and water and use an antibiotic ointment to treat the area.
Ohio has about 12 species of ticks. The Lone Star tick is in the southern part of Ohio. It is easily identified by the coloration on its back and is smaller than the dog tick. The dog tick, which is by far the most common, can carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Only about 2 percent of the dog ticks carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever with about 20 cases per year reported in Ohio.
Veterinarians often test for tick-borne diseases as part of the yearly exam process. My vet includes a four diagnostic blood test for heartworms and three tick-borne diseases, including Lyme as part of the annual exam. Normally a vet will not see the ticks on the dog, so the blood test is important.
Whether working dogs for the field and farm or a companion animal for our daily lives, they deserve the best care. Check with your vet regarding tests and protection for your pets. Statistically, Scioto County accounts for about 1.4 percent of the total Lyme disease cases in Ohio. This is about one of every 150 dogs tested returned positive.
One product that is being used for tick repellant is permethrin. Permethrin has been used in a variety of applications from farm pesticide to treating mites, scabies and lice. Major outdoor retailers carry various sprays or laundry treatments that can be used to treat clothing worn outdoors. A major advantage is permethrin remains effective for many washings.
For more information on ticks and your pets go to the Companion Animal Parasite Council at www.capcvet.org. This website offers information on a variety of pests and includes maps where Lyme disease is more prevalent which is very helpful for travel plans. The OSU Extension website has good information at http://extension.osu.edu and search for “ticks.” ODNR Division of Wildlife has expanded their information regarding ticks at http://ohiodnr.com/tabid/23053/Default.aspx.
So get outdoors and enjoy your favorite places this spring and summer. Just be aware that ticks might be lurking, and practice daily tick checks to prevent problems.