LAND BETWEEN THE LAKES, KY — Warm weather means ticks are out in full force. This year, people will have to deal with a type of tick that is new to America — the Asian longhorned tick — which can spread deadly diseases.
Historically, they are not found in the Western Hemisphere, but that has changed in recent years. This year, they’ve been found in multiple states in the U.S. — including Kentucky and Tennessee — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There haven’t been any confirmed reports in west Kentucky, but the concern is that they will keep heading west.
People who will be outside a lot this summer will have to look out for all kinds of ticks, because all types carry diseases. Edwina Merritt and her family will be spending a lot of time outside over the next few weeks.
“Left Tennessee yesterday, and we’re headed to Colorado,” says Merritt.
They’re taking a cross country trip and camping in several national parks. She says she and her husband check themselves and their kids for ticks every time they get back to their campsite.
“I have two girls, so checking their heads regularly — really well, with all their hair,” says Merritt.
Chris Joyner with Land Between the Lakes says they haven’t seen any of the new Asian Longhorned ticks yet, but people heading outdoors needs to take steps to keep all ticks off of them. One way they can do that is by applying certain types of bug repellents.
“Research shows that permethrin is the best chemical you can use on your clothing to keep ticks off of you. Last year I got a few ticks on me here and there, but it was always when I did not have permethrin on,” says Joyner.
If you do find a tick on you, it’s best to pull it off right away — the right way.
“We encourage people to use a tick puller — or to do whatever they can to get under the tick instead of to squeeze — and that’s kind of counter intuitive to what people think they know about ticks,” says Joyner.
The CDC says you should not use folk remedies — such as applying nail polish or petroleum jelly to the tick or using heat to try to make it detach from your skin — to remove them. The CDC says it’s important to remove a tick as quickly as possible, rather than waiting around for it to detach itself.
Merritt says even though it is scary to think about illnesses ticks carry, it’s not going to slow them down this summer.
“You just can’t let the ticks scare you away from enjoying the outdoors,” says Merritt.
It’s also important to check you pets for ticks. If you find a tick on your furry friend, pull it off of them right away as well. For more information about the best way to remove a tick, click here.