SAN ANTONIO – Those eager to head outdoors to break away from the confinements of their quarantine space have an itty bitty problem to be aware of: ticks.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is warning campers of the dangers of ticks as warmer weather makes its return.
AgriLife Extension entomologist Sonja Swiger said although the rate of tick-borne diseases in Texas is lower than in other states, people need to be “aware and vigilant.”
"Ticks are blood feeders in all life stages and can transmit pathogens that can lead to disease transmission,” Swiger said in a news release, adding that people can be exposed to them by entering their space or being in contact with an animal who has one.
They can’t fly, but ticks can be found anywhere, including a park, a forest or overgrown brush.
This is the beginning of the “plentiful season,” so they could be in areas that haven’t been mowed or cleared recently due to the pandemic, Siger said.
“We’ve also seen wildlife coming into some urban areas more during these periods while people have been staying indoors,” Swiger said. "Will that increase exposure? We just don’t know yet, so people need to take precautions.”
Swiger adds that people should check themselves and their pets after time spent outdoors. Ticks like to attach to the head, hair, chest, armpit, groin, waist and back of the knees, according to AgriLife.
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease, and about 30,000 cases are reported a year.
The Centers for Disease Control states that if left untreated, Lyme disease can infect joints, the heart and the nervous system. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash.
The CDC recommends using insect repellent, using pesticides and removing ticks as soon as possible.
Ticks can be removed with tweezers by grabbing them as close to its head as possible and pulling straight out.
AgriLife says there are 11 common tick species found in Texas, with the American dog tick being the most common. If you come into contact with a tick and need to identify it, you can use the TAMU Tick App.