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Tick Tips: Don't use a match, use tweezers

Wednesday - 4/17/2013, 9:10am  ET

WASHINGTON - A blood-sucking creature that embeds its head into skin is bad enough. Ticks also can infect people with bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Prime tick season kicks in when temperatures are regularly above 50 degrees. From Fauquier to Charles County and locations to the north and in between, people report pulling ticks off themselves and their pets.

"Don't worry. As long as you get that tick off within the first 24 hours, even if the mouth part stays embedded, it will no longer transmit important diseases such as Lyme Disease," says University of Maryland Entomologist Mike Raupp.

To remove ticks never use hot matches, Vaseline, or nail polish. Raupp says they don't work to remove or repel the blood suckers.

How to remove ticks:

  • Using tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the head as possible
  • Use a slow steady pull
  • Disinfect the area
  • Apply topical antibiotic or anti-microbial ointment for a few days to prevent infection

Raupp says Lyme Disease symptoms can feel like a summer flu.

Symptoms to beware of:

  • Lethargy
  • Low grade fever
  • Restlessness
  • Red rash that sometimes appears as a bulls eye

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people developing a fever or rash after a tick bite should seek medical attention.

To prevent tick bites and or ailments use a chemical repellent with DEET, permethrin or picaridin.

Ruapp also recommends tucking pants legs into socks to prevent ticks from getting inside clothing. Light colored clothes can make it easier to spot ticks on clothes.

After being outdoors, people should do body checks and examine clothes to remove the critters.

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