The Omineca Express spoke to wildlife biologist and huntsman from the television program Trigger Effect about the dangers and prevalence of deer ticks and Lyme disease.
“The tick family is a fairly diverse family,” said Dean Trumbley. “There are lots of different species but the deer tick is the one that gets the most attention because of Lyme disease. The deer tick itself is actually unique to the deer family, both the mule deer and the white tail can carry it.”
Other animals like moose have their own brand of ticks which cause them several problems in the north but they are not carriers of diseases like Lyme disease.
The first thing that you notice when you get bit by a Lyme disease carrier is a bullseye shaped bruising around the original bite wound and then symptoms similar to the flu such as headaches, fever or fatigue.
“Anytime you’re in deer country or tick country you should automatically check yourself,” said Trumbley. “Especially the small hair areas on the back of your neck and pubic areas obviously is another one. They’re notorious for it. They usually latch low. They’re so small when they’re not engorged they’re very tiny anything from the size of a pinhead to when they’re fully engorged about the size of the head of a nail.”
They’ll jump on people and migrate to dark, damp and warm areas. That’s why they go to the back of the head and the neck where there’s a lot of blood flow. Then they become engorged and more noticeable.
“Once they’ve detached and they’ve pretty much done the damage, you can notice an irritation. But when they actually bite you and they’re feeding on you, you don’t even feel it. Normally what people do, they’ll be sitting there scratching their head and all of a sudden they notice a bump,” said Trumbley. “It’s because the tick has a small numbing agent that it actually puts on for biting, so you can’t even feel the bite. and when they’re latched onto you they’re already in there.”
Most of the time, the ticks hide in the tall grasses and crawl right to the top of the grass to wait for a host.
“Normally they’re targeting deer,” said Trumbley. “But any warm blooded creature like a human that goes by, they’re going to latch onto them.”
To prevent catching any ticks Trumbley has a couple of tips for those woodsmen out there.
“First of all know their seasons, know when it is that they’re out there. Deer ticks are more prevalent in the summer months and the further south you get.”
“There’s certain precautionary things you can do like tucking your pants into your socks and making sure that you’re not allowing them to have easy access. But the best thing to do to be 100 per cent sure is, once you get back, get somebody to check you over.
Dean’s wife had two deer ticks this year so he is fairly familiar with them and how to remove them. The standard method is to get a red hot pin and poke it so the tick will detach. After removal, remember to keep an eye on the bitten area.
“We definitely watched it,” said Trumbley when his wife was bitten. “But a lot of people don’t realize not every deer tick carries Lyme disease. Just because you have a deer tick on you doesn’t mean all of a sudden you’re going to get Lyme disease.”
Lyme disease can be fatal though, if left without treatment for too long. But catching it early will help so constant surveillance is the key.
“If you get bit by it, keep watching it and even if there’s a small bruise around it, go in right away especially if you get any flu like symptoms.”
Lyme disease, named after the town of Lyme in the U.S.A., can develop into symptoms that will involved the heart, joints or central nervous system. If untreated by antibiotics, or inadequately, the symptoms can lead to permanent brain damage and even death.