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With some questionable health advice being posted by your friends on Facebook, politicians arguing about the state of the American healthcare system and a new medical study being summarized in just a sentence or two on TV---that seems to contradict the study you heard summarized yesterday---it can be overwhelming to navigate the ever-changing landscape of health news.

To Your Health: Ticks Are Responsible for More Than Just Lyme Disease

flickr user John Flannery (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

When people think of ticks, the next thing they usually think of is Lyme Disease. But did you know ticks are responsible for over fifteen different human diseases in the United States?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ticks spread the pathogens that cause disease through the feeding process, when small amounts of their saliva enter their host.

To avoid becoming a meal for a disease ridden tick, avoid overgrown shady areas when outdoors. The common suggestion of wearing long sleeves and tucking your pants into your socks is not practical during the hot summer days of tick season. Instead focus on skin checks when you return indoors. People who shower immediately after outdoor activities are less likely to get Lyme disease because they may catch biting ticks before they transmit it, according to the author of the "Tick Management Handbook." Also, be sure to check your animals to see if they have a tick hitch hiker.

If you do find a tick has attached itself to you or your pet, use pointy tweezers to grasp the tick as close as possible to where it is connected with your skin. There will be some resistance as you pull it out because ticks attach themselves with a cement like substance or small barbs when they insert their feeding tubes. Don’t try to get the tick to detach by heating it or covering it in petroleum jelly. The quicker the tick is removed, the less chance there is for it to spread disease. Dispose of the tick by placing it in a sealed bag or flushing it down the toilet. Then wash the bite, your hands and the tweezers. If you get a rash, fever, or flu like symptoms, contact a medical provider.


Dr. Brooke Hildebrand Clubbs is an assistant professor in the Department of Leadership, Middle & Secondary Education. She writes for special publications of The Southeast Missourian and is a certified Community Health Worker.
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