With Memorial Day weekend just ahead, thousands of Nebraskans will be heading out on their first camping trips of the season — and they’ll need to take precautions against ticks.
Epidemiologist Patty Quinlisk says there is a wide variety of ticks in the region and they’re all potentially dangerous.
“They carry a variety of diseases and not just Lyme disease, which most people have heard of,” Quinlisk says. “Unfortunately, there’s a whole variety of diseases you can get from these ticks. You just don’t want to be bit by any of them.”
Suggestions for preventing tick bites include: avoid wooded and grassy areas, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants tucked into socks or boots, and use insect repellents that contain the chemical DEET.
Even though it takes a day or so for the attached ticks to inject the bacteria, checking yourself over immediately after being outdoors is also important.
“Make sure, if there are any ticks on you, you get them off immediately,” Quinlisk says. “And remember, some of these ticks may not be bigger than the period at the end of a sentence.”
It’s best to just pull the tick off, according to Quinlisk, rather than using folk remedies like a lit match.
“The best thing to do is to grab the tick as close to the body as you can with something like tweezers,” Quinlisk explains. “Don’t squeeze the body, because you don’t want it to regurgitate that stuff into you, but grab the tick as close to the skin as you can and then pull the tick straight out.” Quinlisk notes ticks tend to prefer the back of the knee, armpit, scalp, groin and back of the neck.
There were 124 cases of Lyme disease reported in Nebraska last year. The worst two counties for Lyme disease were Lancaster with 40 cases and Douglas with 41.