Area residents are being urged to take precautions to avoid diseases related to ticks.
For the first time, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture has identified an established population of the blacklegged tick — also known as the deer tick — in Saunders, Douglas and Sarpy counties.
Blacklegged ticks can transmit Lyme disease and other diseases, states information from the Three Rivers Public Health Department.
The state’s department of agriculture has been conducting surveillance and — at this time — hasn’t yet identified an established population of the blacklegged ticks in Dodge County.
“But regardless, it’s still a good idea for everyone to be aware and to take preventative action so they don’t get a tick bite,” said Amy L. Roberts, Three Rivers’ disease surveillance coordinator and health educator.
Roberts and the Three Rivers Public Health Department recommends:
- Using an EPA-approved insect repellent with at least 20% DEET, picaridin or IR3535 or permethrin-treated clothing.
- Wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts and socks when outdoors.
- Avoiding wooded and brushy areas with tall grass and shrubs.
- Showering as soon as possible and checking for ticks after spending time outdoors.
- Checking for ticks daily. Ticks can hide under the armpits, behind the knees and in the hair.
With hot and humid weather, some people may not want to wear shirts with long sleeves.
“It seems counter intuitive, but if you are going to be in a brushy wooded area where there’s known to be ticks, it is better to be safe than sorry,” Roberts said.
Generally, ticks are found near the ground, in brushy or wooded areas. They can’t jump or fly.
Instead, they climb tall grasses or shrubs and wait for someone to brush against them. When this happens, they hang on to the person with tiny claws and then take a bite.
Early removal of an attached tick can minimize and often eliminate the chance of infection.
To remove an attached tick, grasp the tick with fine-tipped tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and pull it straight out. If signs of illness, such as rash or fever, develop in the days and weeks following the bite, individuals should contact their health care provider.
With the addition of the blacklegged tick, there are now a total of four types of ticks found in the state that can cause illnesses.
More information about tick-related diseases can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/