Ticks and more chemical insanity

Just read this article, response below:

From conversations I’ve had over the years, I perceive that many people in our area have a heightened sense of fear about ticks, logical b/c we don’t see a ton here. They are a concern and can cause serious illness, but they are a fact of life that we can manage with simple, repeatable, non-toxic efforts. On our farm during the summer the children and adults show up with ticks every single day, it doesn’t keep us from being outside all day long, but it does keep us vigilant. The same simple steps can be used by people living in suburban settings.

I just read the other day a press release from Fairfax that they’re setting up feeding stations for deer that will rub permethrin poison on the sides of the deer in hopes of reducing the tick population. What a silly thing to do, in similar fashion to spraying large areas with bifenthrin (another dangerous pyrethroid) as suggested in this article to kill ticks. The CDC is conducting a chemical experiment on these families (did they receive proper notice and warning or just invitation?) and admits that anything less than total eradication doesn’t provide safety from disease-ridden ticks. As per normal, I question whether poisoning everyone and everything for a less than thorough outcome is worth it?

Treating areas for ticks with pyrethroid products (permethrin, bifenthrin  or other) compromises human and ecosystem health with toxic chemicals to kill only some of the ticks and leaving plenty of disease-carrying ones behind. These are the same endocrine-disrupting chemicals that alter development, compromise fertility, and predispose people to illnesses they might not otherwise confront. Global climate change and simple tick evolution modify how effectively ticks function, the locations they inhabit, and their numbers. Poisoning programs cause a greater health issue for the larger population and environment without eradicating the problem leading to a false sense of security, chemical health implications in the long term, and people missing ticks on family members b/c they aren’t being vigilant. Ticks are not going away. We have to find and remove them from family members. There is no way to prevent ever getting a tick on your body aside from living in a self-contained bubble.

Management strategies:

Examine family members for ticks. Do it every day. Check all crevices of skin, especially in warm, moist private areas, in/behind ears, on heads. With a little practice this is easy and quick for all involved.

Some ticks are big and easy to spot like the Lonestar or Dog Tick. However, the nymph stage of the deer tick is tiny…but it can still be seen and removed by you, at home.

Get some good tweezers whose tips come together cleanly. Removal doesn’t need to hurt or be difficult. Using the proper tool, I prefer the side of a good set of long tweezers for tiny ticks, grab the whole tick right next to the skin so you collect all of its mouth parts. Don’t be squeamish, just do it. After removal, wash the bite area with warm water and regular soap and apply bacitracin. Less than complete removal can lead to infection…but this can still usually be managed with careful washing and bacitracin and awareness.

Ticks can still be alive after removal. As gross as it sounds, we keep a small, lidded alcohol jar in which we put them. It kills them so they cannot bite anyone else.

Observe bite areas on subsequent days and weeks. If need be draw a circle around the bite area with a permanent marker so you know where to look. Consider symptoms that anyone has and whether they might be related to a bite. Remember that not all doctors know the range of Lyme or other tick disease symptoms, so you must educate yourself.

Vaseline will smother ticks if left on long enough. The hardest part about this is convincing younger children to keep their hands out of the goo. 🙂 This can also work great on pets.

Common wisdom in the scientific community is that removal of ticks by or before 36 hours greatly lessens the likelihood of disease transmission.

A great way to cover bases is to save the tick. You can stick it in tape and keep it while you watch the bite for a reaction. Testing may not be completely definitive but could be one piece of the puzzle if struggling with a diagnosis.

Let’s not encourage the chemical craziness. It won’t get rid of the threat and increases health issue for a larger segment of the population than is threatened by the ticks in the first place.

Wishing you health and wellness.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.