Tick-borne illnesses are growing issues around the country, and in Virginia. With the warmer weather, it is important to be ready for the tick season. There are steps that you can take to protect yourself from ticks and the complications that they can cause you and your pets. Learn more about tick season and how to prepare for it.
When Is It
Tics are the most active between April and September in Virginia. In the spring, you will need to worry more about the tick larvae or seed ticks. These ticks are smaller and can be more difficult to spot. They only have six legs instead of eight. However, they can still spread a number of illnesses. Ticks need a blood meal through each of their phases and each time they molt. Female ticks need a blood meal to lay eggs. This means that ticks are actively biting throughout the season.
Types of Ticks
There are three ticks in Northern Virginia that you need to be aware of. The Lone Star tick has a white dot on its back when it is an adult. This tick will spread STARI, tularemia and can cause people to develop an allergy to one of the proteins in meat. The blacklegged tick has black legs. The ticks themselves can be black or black and brown. This tick will spread Lyme disease, and Powassan disease. The American dog tick is brown, and it has a patterned shell. It can spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.
Dangers of Ticks
The main danger of ticks is that they spread a number of illnesses that can be life threatening. Most of the illnesses will start with a fever and body aches along with a possible headache. It may feel like a bad cold or the flu, but there will not a lot of improvement. A rash may develop a few days after the fever. If this happens you should seek medical attention. Your doctor can run a test to see if you have a tick-borne illness and then prescribe antibiotics to help you to recover from the illness. The complication from the allergy to meat will require a change in diet. If not treated, Lyme disease can turn into a chronic condition.
There are steps that you can take to prevent yourself from being bitten by ticks. One is to treat your yard for ticks. This will prevent your family and pets from being bitten while you are outside in your backyard. Applying insect repellent with DEET when you are going into areas that are prone to tick offers another layer of protection. Be sure to check your clothing as soon as you get home. You should also check yourself and your pets on a regular basis for ticks and remove them if you find them.