Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (cont.)
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What is the best way to remove a tick?
2. Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick; this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. (If this happens, remove mouthparts with tweezers. Consult your health care provider if illness occurs.)
3. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash your hands with soap and water.
4. Do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick because its fluids may contain infectious organisms. Skin accidentally exposed to tick fluids can be disinfected with iodine scrub, rubbing alcohol, or water containing detergents.
5. Save the tick for identification in case you become ill. This may help your doctor to make an accurate diagnosis. Place the tick in a sealable plastic bag and put it in your freezer. Write the date of the bite on a piece of paper with a pencil and place it in the bag.
Do folklore remedies work?
No. Folklore remedies, such as the use of petroleum jelly or hot matches, do little to encourage a tick to detach from skin. In fact, they may make matters worse by irritating the tick and stimulating it to release additional saliva or regurgitate gut contents, increasing the chances of transmitting the pathogen. These methods of tick removal should be avoided.
How can ticks be controlled?
Strategies to reduce vector tick densities through area-wide application of acaricides (chemicals that will kill ticks and mites) and control of tick habitats (e.g., leaf litter and brush) have been effective in small-scale trials. New methods being developed include applying acaricides to animal hosts by using baited tubes, boxes, and feeding stations in areas where infected ticks are endemic. Biological control with fungi, parasitic nematodes, and parasitic wasps may play supportive roles in integrated tick control efforts. Community-based integrated tick management strategies may prove to be an effective public health response to reduce the incidence of tick-borne infections. However, limiting exposure to ticks is presently the most effective method of prevention of tick-transmitted diseases.
Last Editorial Review: 10/26/2007 7:28:42 PM