Tips To Keep Ticks Tamed This Summer

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TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- It's not only our favorite time of the year - ticks love the summertime too. And while you're enjoying a picnic outside, they could be having a picnic on you.

Those little monsters are hiding everywhere, creeping and crawiling up branches and blades of grass looking for a meal.

"They're usually within a couple feet off the ground and as you're walking through it they jump on you as you brush up against the leaves, and then they'll crawl up your pant leg," Chief of Park Police at Lake Shawnee Mike Cope said, "and eventually get to a spot to where you're unprotected and they'll work their way to the skin."

Cope offers a few tips to prevent ticks on your body:

Wear a strong bug repellant with DEET
Try wearing long pants, but keep in mind they can climb up clothing
If you're camping or outdoors, stay at a place with maintained grass

Cope says the ticks aren't bad at the campgrounds at the lake because the grass is always manicured. The weather has a part in it as well; how cold the winter is and how wet and hot the summer is can determine how many ticks there are.

Tall grass could be a breeding ground for ticks, and if you're wearing short sleeves, there's a good chance one could attach to you. But if you get one, how do you get rid of it?

Bob Brown, Jim Lawrence and their friends are seasoned campers and they've heard their fair share of tick-removal stories.

"I've heard you take a cotton ball and put dishwater soap and put it on the tick, wet him up real good and take a pair of tweezers and jerk on it and he'll come out," Brown said.

"It's like a syringe, they say when you squeeze it, it just pushes that stuff right into you," Lawrence said. "Heat up a needle. Light a match and put it down on there."

Those stories you've heard aren't the way to go.

Tom Langer with the Kansas Bureau of Environmental Health says to not use any of the old remedies. "The best way to do it is using a good pair of tweezers that are clean and you grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and you pull straight up."

Langer says after removing a tick, you should clean it with soap and maybe some rubbing alcohol. Watch out for a rash resembling a bullseye, or signs of fatigue, muscle aches or fever. That could mean you have one of the vector-borne diseases ticks carry, one of the widely known diseases being Lyme disease. Langer says you really shouldn't panic about it if you live in Kansas.

"Ninety-six percent of known cases in the U.S. of Lyme disease basicaly occur in 13 states and Kansas is not one of those states."

Langer also said for every 100,000 people in Kansas, 4/10 out of one percent would ever come down with any of the diseases, but it doesn't mean it can't happen.

Langer and Cope recommend a "tick-check" after being outdoors. This includes searching clothing for hard-to-see ticks, checking ears, armpits, waist and bra lines, and any other tight places ticks would be attracted to.

You may not even know a tick has bitten you, because they secrete a tiny amount of antiseptic when they bite.

If you are bitten, report the tick to the nearest health department. If you are concerned that you might contract a disease from the tick, do not destroy the insect. The only way you'll know if you have a disease is if you keep it and take it to your physician to be analyzed. Langer says to freeze it, or keep it in an air-tight container or bag.

Even if a tick has a disease and has bitten you, you may not contract the disease. A tick has to feed on a host for more than 36 hours for a disease to transmit.