It's Tick Time, Once Again
Nothing says late spring in Connecticut like finding a tick burrowed into the back of your knee...
These little guys are simply obnoxious. Ticks are out in force right now in the Northeast and they are hungry. Hiding in brush, gardens, and wooded areas, they emerge in the spring and attach to a host for a several-day meal. Several types of ticks live in our state, and each can carry several diseases that can infect animals and humans. Nymphs, or immature ticks, transmit disease more readily than adult ticks. Due to their very small size (about the size of a poppy seed), they're often not found within the time it takes to transmit tick-borne illnesses. Adult ticks can transmit disease but they typically do not attach for as long a period and are often easier to spot.
Doing a quick skin and scalp check each evening before bed can help identify a tick a little sooner. Check kids and pets after any outdoor activities. Use a lighted magnifying glass for a more thorough scan. Areas under the arms, behind the knees, in the groin and along the hairline tend to be preferred locations for ticks to attach.
If you do find a tick, use tweezers to gently remove the entire tick. Instructions for removal are widely available online (but do not "paint" the tick with anything to cause it to fall off). Place the tick in two sealed plastic sandwich bags - do not freeze or crush it, as this can render it untestable. Call your local health department and discuss options for submitting the tick for testing. If it is a deer tick, some communities offer free testing for the most common tick-borne diseases. For towns where testing is not available or for other types of ticks, organizations for mail-in tick testing can be found online.
Lastly, contact your health care provider. If appropriate, a prophylactic dose of medication may be prescribed to prevent Lyme disease. Unfortunately, no preventative treatment is available for the other tick-borne illnesses (which makes testing the tick even more important). Monitor for symptoms including rashes, fevers, unusual fatigue, headaches, joint pains, and easy bruising for about 4 weeks after the bite.
The following resources are available for Connecticut residents: