Tick Talk Presented at Library

photo by Hal Gray
Valerie Valcour, Public Health Nurse, shows some of her handouts at her tick presentation, June 14, at the Greensboro Free Library.

by Hal Gray

GREENSBORO – Public Health Nurse Valerie Valcour of the Vermont Department of Health made a presentation June 14, at the Greensboro Free Library about ticks.

Her focus was on the blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick, but professionals are moving away from the latter name because the tick can also be hosted by white-footed mice, chipmunks and other rodents. Between 2013 and 2016, over half of black-legged ticks collected in Vermont tested positive for one or more tickborne diseases, with Lyme disease the most commonly reported.

The symptoms of Lyme disease begin from three to 30 days after a tick bite, which can cause flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, joint pain and swelling, muscle aches and fatigue. People also talk about seeing a bull’s eye rash but Valcour said this appears only 70 percent of the time and may otherwise look like a bruise or rash or may not show at all.

In Vermont, ticks are most active between early spring and late fall, with the highest risk of a bite in the spring and early summer when ticks in the nymph stage are active and looking for a blood meal. But Valcour added that with warmer winters, ticks may bite in any month the temperature is above freezing.

Ticks don’t fly or jump but “quest” i.e., fasten on to people as they pass by. For this reason people should avoid tall grasses and brushy areas. One control is to mow the lawn frequently. Showering within two hours of being outdoors helps to wash off unattached ticks.

Valcour said ticks needed to be attached 36 to 48 hours to infect someone. To remove a tick, use fine-tipped tweezers and grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Don’t twist or jerk but pull straight up. The Vermont Health Department provides more information at: healthvermont.gov/disease-control/tickborne-diseases/prevent-tick-bites-tickborne-diseases and healthvermont.gov/disease-control/tickborne-diseases