It’s those little arachnids (like scorpions, spiders and mites) we all watch for every spring. Ticks are considered to be a pest because some species bite people and feed on blood. They can also feed on dogs, other pets and livestock. Removing them can be a challenge considering they cut a hole in your skin and insert their mouth parts, and some even secrete stuff that further cements them to your skin.
In Minnesota and North Dakota, the most common disease that can be transmitted by ticks (specifically black-legged/deer ticks) is Lyme Disease. Early Lyme disease may present itself as an illness similar to the flu, but symptoms will vary or they could be non-existent so it’s important to pay attention. Lyme disease can develop into a more chronic condition so early diagnosis and treatment is imperative.
Now there’s a new tick problem in Minnesota. It’s a rare, potentially severe allergy to “alpha-gal” which is a sugar in red meat. This allergy has been known to be triggered by a bite from the lone star tick and results in severe itching and waves of stomach pain – usually four to six hours after eating . But there’s a problem with this premise – the lone star tick is not supposed to be in this state, and although there have been isolated reports of these ticks, there are no known populations. So researchers may be guilty of pinning this allergy solely on the lone star tick.
In Minnesota, tick-borne diseases are reportable by law so every time a medical provider diagnoses a case (such as Lyme disease), the Department of Health is notified. But allergies such as the alpha-gal are not reportable, so the state does not know if cases are increasing.
If you find yourself feeling a little out of sorts this season, pay close attention to your exposure to ticks and tick bites. Some professionals suggest that you keep the tick in a sealed plastic bag in your freezer for identification later if necessary. Keeping notes on these details could protect you more than you realize.
And some quick tips for reducing your chances of getting bitten:
- Keep grass and vegetation short
- Remove leaf litter and brush
- Don’t encourage deer into your yard
- Treat edges of wooded or brushy areas next to your property once a year with an insecticide labeled for a turf area
- Stay on trails
- Use repellant
- Check yourself often
Whether it’s for work or play, take care as you head outdoors this year!
-Terry Olson, Titan Outlet Store Team