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Tennessee Tick Season: How to avoid the bloodsuckers & remove them from you or your pet

An engorged tick after sucking the blood off a dog in Nashville (FOX 17 News)
An engorged tick after sucking the blood off a dog in Nashville (FOX 17 News)
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As temperatures warm up, bloodsucking ticks come out and it's important to know what to do when they attach to you or your pet.

Health professionals say tick season usually begins when the temperatures begin to rise and dormant ticks start looking for food.

So folks heading outdoors and letting their pets out should still be checking for ticks.

To avoid ticks, the CDC says to use EPA registered repellents such as DEET, picardin, and oil of lemon eucalyptus. Here's a search tool to find the right repellent.

It's equally as important to know what to do if you're bitten.

The first step is removal:

  • The Centers For Disease Control says to use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  • Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  • You can also invest in a tool, like the Tick Key, to remove a tick
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  • Never crush a tick with your fingers.

Doctors say it's a good idea to take lots of photos and videos of the tick so it can be identified if needed. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.

The CDC advises people to not feed into folklore, like “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. You should remove the tick as soon as possible.

Ticks tend to attach to areas around hair, ears, under arms or inside belly buttons. Make sure to do a full-body check after going into where ticks might be, like grassy, brushy or wooded areas.

If you do find a tick, make sure to wash your clothes for 10 minutes on high heat. Don't forget to check your pets as ticks may attach themselves to your furry friend.

After you or your pet has been bitten, make sure to keep an eye on the bite area and check for symptoms.

Here are some of the most common tick-related symptoms to watch out for:

Ticks found in Tennessee can spread diseases like Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Make sure to monitor for symptoms like flu or rashes for several days or weeks after a tick bite.

Tick Bites & Pets:

After going outside, scan your pet for ticks. Ticks can be black, brown or tan and have eight legs. The bigger they are, the more blood they've sucked from their host.

Wash your hands, wear gloves and remove the tick just like you would from a human.

Keep the area afterwards and keep an eye on the bite and how your pet is feeling.

If the skin remains irritated or infected, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

People with pets who spend an ample amount of time outdoors can also check into flea and tick preventatives.

Get reports like this and all the news of the day in Middle Tennessee delivered to your inbox each morning with the FOX 17 News Daily Newsletter:

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