Tick Check

Northeastern United States

pretty much any time you go out

The older woman’s voice on the telephone says, “There is no water here, so there are no mosquitoes, black flies or vermin.”  But Grandma does warn us about snakes and ticks.  I’m not at all alarmed by this as Pennsylvania, my home state, could put anyone to shame with our lion’s share of snakes and ticks.  (Just yesterday as I write this, Lisa and I, on a half-mile uphill of a local hike, met half a dozen of these parasitic arachnids who tenaciously stuck to our bare legs.  That would be the ticks, not the snakes.)

Years ago, I chose to get a series of injections that were claimed to protect me from lyme disease.  The program was sponsored by the County Health Department.  This was a smart choice as I spend so much time in the woods and as we know, the woods is one place where ticks live and ticks unflinchingly, generously share their saliva with you, possibly infecting you with lyme disease.  A few years later, for various reasons, this vaccine was taken off the market.  Since that time however, I have developed neither lyme disease nor, as a side effect of the medication, six extra limbs or the compulsion to sing the theme song from the movie Titanic.  Seems that the vaccine has had no other than its intended outcome.

Nonetheless, we are still very careful about scanning ourselves and each other for ticks that might have chosen to hitchhike on our bodies.  After every hike, it’s tick check time.

You should do this too.  You get to play nurse with each other.  Which is to say, check your hiking partner’s entire body, from toes to scalp, and don’t skip anything.  It’s fun!  But I caution you.  If you find a tick, it ruins the mood.

Do a check soon after leaving the woods, or gardening, or in any outside venue.  If you do find one, use tweezers and pull the tick off your body rump first (the tick’s rump, not necessarily yours.)  Be sure to get it all, especially the head.

If there is a full moon, think of the little critter as a luna-tick.

It can take up to two days for a tick bite to infect you, but don’t mess around.  The sooner you get the tick off your body, the less likely you will get inhabited by cooties.  Don’t get cooties.

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