he American dog tick is dark reddish-brown in color and about -inch in length, and is sometimes referred to as a wood tick because it is often found in wooded areas where hosts such as deer, raccoons and opossums live. It also lives near bodies of water where animals drink.
Like all ticks, the American dog tick is a bloodsucking ectoparasite, and it requires a blood meal at each stage of life in order to grow. A female must engorge herself with blood to obtain the nourishment necessary to produce the thousands of eggs she lays. Ticks do not embed their entire head into a host, only the mouthparts. To keep blood from clotting, the tick will inject an anti-clogging agent. Bites from the American dog tick can sometimes cause a severe reaction called tick bite paralysis. These ticks can also transmit diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease.
Important Note: If you develop a reddish rash around the site of a tick bite, suffer arthritis-like pain, or have flu-like symptoms after being bitten by a tick, see a medical professional. The migrating, bulls-eye rash is a key symptom of Lyme Disease, and occurs in about 60 percent of people contracting the disease. The rash may not appear as the first symptom. Flu-like symptoms, fatigue, neck and head pain, and other symptoms may occur first or in lieu of the rash. Visit the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov for a full description of this disease.
Ticks are difficult to control, therefore the services of an experienced professional are recommended. Treatments may be necessary in areas of the yard where ticks are found. The best way to avoid tick bites is to stay away from tick-infested areas. To remove a tick embedded in skin, do not grasp it by the abdomen and pull. You may squeeze its fluids into the skin, which increases the chances for infection. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick by the head next to the skin and slowly pull backwards. Working slowly permits the tick to withdraw its mouthparts so they do not detach and remain in the skin and become infected. Once the tick has been removed, cleanse the area well with soap and water. Then disinfect the bite site with alcohol or apply antibiotic cream.
Tips for avoiding American dog tick bites:
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Light colors are best so ticks are easier to detect. Secure the bottom of pants inside socks or tie close around the ankles and wear a hat. Tuck long hair under the hat.
Use tick repellent applied to clothing, particularly the lower body and the arms.
Carefully inspect your body after exiting infested areas. Have another person inspect your backside and back of your head.
Wash clothing in warm water and detergent immediately. Never throw potentially infested clothing in a hamper with other clothes or onto the floor.
Protect pets by not allowing them into tick-infested areas or consult your veterinarian for tick treatment products. Dogs can also contract Lyme Disease.
Inspect pets carefully for ticks after walking them in wooded areas or fields.