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Uptick in ticks? Florida wildlife officials say rainy season bringing in more bugs

A Close Up Of An Adult Female, An Adult Male, Nymph And Larva Tick (file photo)
Posted at 1:13 PM, May 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-09 13:20:15-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Jerry Chiat loves taking nature pictures at Grassy Waters Nature Preserve.

"I usually try to get here before it starts raining," he said on Wednesday while snapping pictures on his digital camera.

But soon he may have more critters joining him in the woods.

“They don’t bother me. I stay away from them as much as possible," said Chiat.

He's talking about ticks. This summer, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission says they are expecting an “uptick” in ticks, which can carry deadly illnesses like Lyme Disease.

There's a particular pattern on the skin to look out for if you have been bitten by a tick.
“You’ll have the bull's eye-type lesion, the rash. Usually that’s where the tick has bitten you," said Adam Leisy, the emergency room director for West Boca Medical Center. 

If you’re going camping or on a hike, check yourself. 

“Make sure that you’re looking over any exposed skin if you have any ticks. If you do, make sure that you’re removing them. Tweezers right at the head, pulling them off your skin,” said Leisy.

Tips for safely removing ticks:

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible
  • Pull it away from your skin with steady, even pressure
  • Do not twist or jerk the tick, which can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth-parts easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal
  • Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or any other “folk” remedies to remove a tick as these methods do not work
  • Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers
  • Wash your hands and the bite area with soap and water

On A Mission Pest Solutions suggests checking your pets regularly for the pests.

“It’s when the dogs are tramping around in the bushes. It’s most common when they pick them up," said company owner Michael Macaluso.

If your pets have ticks, you might want to call for pest control to spray the inside and outside of your home.

“Basically a blanket spray of the whole entire area where the ticks are expected to be," said Macaluso.

Tips to avoid tick bites

  • Walk in the middle of trails. Avoid tall grass, brush and leaf litter
  • Use EPA-registered repellents labeled for use against ticks on skin. Always follow the label instructions. EPA-registered repellents are safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Treat clothing and gear such as pants, boots, socks and tents with a product containing permethrin, or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear. Do not apply permethrin directly to skin
  • Wear long pants, long sleeves and long socks. Tuck pant legs into socks
  • Wear light colors to make it easier to see ticks