Vector-borne Disease Education
Tips to protect yourself and your animals while hunting
Blacklegged ticks do not jump or fly, but crawl onto people and animals from the ground or low vegetation. Tucking your socks into your pants forces ticks to crawl over the pants rather than under them, which increases the chance you will find the tick before it bites. Wearing light-colored pants also helps with seeing ticks as they climb up your legs.
Use products containing DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on the skin as repellents. These products have demonstrated repeated success at repelling many species of ticks. Permethrin-treated clothing, either purchased pretreated or treated at home with permethrin products, is effective at killing ticks on contact. Permethrin specifically for treating clothing and other gear can be purchased from camping or sporting goods stores. All clothing should be laundered in hot water and on a hot dry cycle to kill any ticks. If clothing needs to be used again quickly, 10 minutes in the dryer alone can kill ticks.
Conduct frequent tick checks while in the field and full-body tick checks after you come indoors. While ticks can attach anywhere, they often prefer tight areas, such as around the waistband, behind the knee, and under the armpit. Taking a shower within an hour of coming in from the field can remove ticks that have not attached.
If an embedded tick is found, it should be removed with fine tweezers by grasping the head as close to the skin as possible and pulling with steady, firm pressure. The tick should not be grabbed in the middle of its body because the gut contents may be expelled onto the skin. The use of heat (lit match, cigarette, etc.) or petroleum jelly is not recommended. These methods will irritate the tick and may cause it to regurgitate its stomach contents, thereby increasing the possibility of infection. Once a tick is removed, place it in a plastic bag and store it in the freezer. If symptoms develop, the removed tick can be tested for pathogens.
Fortunately, deer keds are relatively large and, unlike ticks, do not anchor themselves into the flesh when they feed. Therefore, they are reasonably easy to find and remove when they land or crawl onto humans.
COMPANION ANIMAL PROTECTION
Regular grooming with a brush or comb after a day in the field will help find any deer keds that may mistakenly land on hunting dogs. Consult with your veterinarian about products that can be used on your animal for tick bite prevention.
Symptoms of tick-borne diseases that are present differ by pathogen and individual. Only about 50 percent of people will have the characteristic bull’s-eye rash associated with Lyme disease. If unexplained illness develops, seek the advice of a medical professional and have the saved tick tested for pathogens. Because it is unknown if keds can transmit diseases, anyone who is bitten by a deer ked should cautiously monitor themselves for disease symptoms, which manifest differently depending on the exact disease but are often flu-like, and seek medical attention if symptoms develop. Like ticks, the ked should be collected and frozen if possible for future testing if unexplained symptoms develop.