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Tick PreventionTicks are one of the worst critters we have to encounter in the outdoors. Just the thought of them makes most people cringe, however cringing is not what we are concerned about. Ticks are a type of mite, a pesky little bug that lives off of the blood of humans and animals. The thing about ticks is that they carry diseases, most notably Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. So the first thing to know about ticks is that you should take precautions to keep them away from you whenever you are traveling in tick terrain (and especially in high grasses in the spring and summer). The second thing is how to get them off of you when they do manage to get through all your tick blockades. 

Tick Prevention: 

Clothing with a repellent on it is the best way to keep ticks off your body. Typically a repellent with permethrin in it works best on clothing. Do not apply permethrin to skin. Some clothing has insect repellent conveniently built into it. You can pre-treat your outdoor clothing with permethrin and it will last through 70 washes, so if you are going on a longer wilderness trip, you can leave the repellent bottle at home and just bring your permethrin-treated clothing. Ticks love to hang out in tall grasses where they can hide and easily jump onto their prey (you). Wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts makes it much more challenging for them to get to your skin.

Tick Inspection: 

The second part of tick prevention is tick inspection. When you are spending time in the outdoors where there are ticks, make sure to do tick checks. These are best done by another person, and all crevasses and warm dark places should be checked (ie. underarms, crotch, behind the knees, at the nape of the neck). Your or your tick-checking partner might find one just crawling around on the middle of your calf, but more often than not they find a safe place to burrow in. The great thing about doing tick checks often is that you avoid the burrowing part. Ticks usually spend some time crawling around (it's hard to feel them though) before they find a "home" on your body. 

Tick Removal: 

If you do find a tick and it has burrowed in, properly removing it and storing it is key to your safety. The best tick removal device is a pair of pointy tweezers, but if your first aid kit is lacking you may have to improvise. Use the tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as you can and then pull slowly straight up until the tick is removed. Any wives tales about burning the tick or unscrewing it simply are not true. It takes over 24 hours of attachment for the tick to begin transmitting diseases, but either way, save the tick in a container and take it to your doctor where they can test it for Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. 

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