Do you know the tips to prevent ticks?
Warmer weather leads to people spending more time outdoors. Our built environment, especially here in Jacksonville is peri-urban; meaning we have altered our landscape to have rural characteristics. These rural characteristics include building residential areas around natural parks, having fragmented forests in public, and more secluded backyards.
While we enjoy the built environments, we may not be the only ones. Ticks are not just seen in secluded woods, they are also present in these peri-urban locations. Hotter months lead to more cases of diseases from tick bites. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that ticks live in wooded, grassy, and brushy areas. Which include places people walk, camp, hunt, or even one’s own backyard. Ticks are also able to survive on pets hitching a ride into your house.
While spring and summer are the most common seasons for ticks, the Florida Department of Health warns that tick-borne diseases can occur throughout the year in Florida. The most common tick bite related diseases in Florida are Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme Disease, and ehrlichiosis. Symptoms of tick-borne related diseases can include muscle pain, fever, and headache. In some cases, symptoms will present two weeks after being bitten. Lyme Disease has its own disease-specific symptom, a bull’s eye rash at the site of the bite.
For more information about Lyme Disease and tips on ticks, check out this interview with UNF’s own Dr. Kerry Clark.
Be Prepared, Not Scared
Do not let the fear of ticks stop you from enjoying the outdoors. Avoiding ticks is hard, but there are ways to prevent being bitten. The Florida Health Department and University of Florida recommends:
- Walking in center of path and trail
- Tuck pants leg into socks
- Use insect repellant that contains 20-30% DEET
- Apply permethrin insecticide to clothes
- Keep residential grass, trees, and shrubs trimmed
- Preform regular tick checks on yourself, family, and pets
- Shower after being in possible tick habitat
- Avoid walking in wooded, brushy areas
- Avoid high grass and areas with excess leaf litter
Don’t Forget About Fido
Our pets are also at risk for tick-borne diseases. It is important to discuss with your veterinarian about the environments your pet frequents. Getting your pet the recommended tick prevention will protect them, and you.
Ashley Dedrick is a current graduate student at the University of North Florida pursuing a master’s in Public Health. She is using this project to share her interests in bettering the health of the entirety of her community, both environmentally and personally.