His name is Dr. Thomas N. Mather, but the world’s starting to call him “The Tick Guy” – and for good reason. Mather arrived at the University of Rhode Island in 1992 from the Harvard School of Public Health, and now serves as director of URI’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease and its TickEncounter Resource Center.
According to his website, www.tickencounter.org, Mather’s research focuses on tick ecology, area-wide tick control strategies, tick-bite protection and tick-borne disease prevention, and has attracted funding from a wide variety of sources, including the National Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the National Institutes of Health.
Ticks, once only a problem in the deep woods, are everywhere now, and we didn’t need a government tick report to know it. The abstract touches on the fact that tick-borne diseases – most notably Lyme disease – have been on the rise since 1991, when reporting began.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection primarily transmitted by Ixodes ticks, also known as deer ticks or, commonly on the West Coast, black-legged ticks. These tiny arachnids are typically found in wooded and grassy areas, but more and more frequently, they’re found in suburban lawns, so it’s no surprise that the incidence of Lyme disease is on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the United States every year, while many experts believe the true number of cases is much higher.
Lyme disease affects people of all ages. The CDC notes that it is most commonly diagnosed in children, older adults and those who spend a lot of time outdoors, like firefighters and park rangers who have higher rates of exposure to environments where ticks live.
Since hunters spend a lot more time in the growth than your average American, we’re particularly susceptible to Lyme disease, as well. Here are some tips from Mather to minimize your risks.
Do daily tick checks on yourself, your family and your pets. The simplest way to protect yourself is to remove a tick before it has a chance to transmit disease-causing pathogens, Mather says. Ticks can attach anywhere, though they will commonly find spots like the back of your knee, around waistbands, under armpits or any other constricted place. Anytime after you have been in tick territory, you should thoroughly check your entire body and remove attached ticks immediately. Once attached, ticks DO NOT wash off in the shower.
Wear tick-repellant clothing. Tucking pant legs into socks is a good way to keep ticks on the outside where they may be seen or get brushed off; ticks start low and crawl up, so your best defense is close to the ground. A few companies offer options to tick-proof your favorite clothes – just send them off to be treated, and the shielding they offer is said to last through 70 or more washings.
Protect your pets with tick repellant, and protect your yard with perimeter sprays and granules. Two applications usually work best, and should be done in mid-May and again in mid-June to kill off the initial adults and any remaining eggs.
If you’ve got a different kind of itch – an itch to hunt – Tioga Boar Hunting Ranch can help. Offering many different types of guided hunts to appeal to hunters looking for all types of trophy game, plan a stay with us and enjoy fantastic hunting in the mountains of north central Pennsylvania. To learn more, give us a call at 570-418-0840.