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Dr. Thomas
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Oklahoma Tick Population Flourishing this Summer: How to prevent and treat tick bites

Experts say that the tick population is especially high in Oklahoma this summer, due to the mild winter season and the wet spring season.

Ticks can be active year round, but are most common in the late spring and early fall. Although they prefer thickly wooded areas, they can also be found in small lawns in the middle of the city.

Here are some tips to keep ticks away:

  • Keep your yard clean and tidy. Ticks thrive in tall grass, shrubs, woods, leaf piles, leftover lawn clippings, and wood stacks. Keep your lawn mowed short and raked, and clean up any piles of brush. Wood piles that are left unkept can easily produce moisture and attract ticks and other unwanted wildlife. Stack your wood in direct sunlight to dry out if possible, and keep it tidy to avoid ticks.
  • A boundary of gravel or wood chips between your house and yard may help keep ticks away from your house. The texture of the gravel under their bodies hurts them, keeping them from crossing it.
  • Outside pets need to be medicated to prevent from attracting and feeding ticks.
  • Depending on where you live, pest control may have be able to treat your yard for ticks.
  • Chickens, Guineas, and other ground-feeding birds eat ticks and can manage ticks remarkably well. Keeping chickens or guineas require more research and may not work out for every situation.
  • Keeping certain plants in your yard can help repel ticks, and most can be rubbed on your skin as a substitute for bug repellant spray. The following are some plants that repel ticks: Lavender, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Garlic, Mint, and Sage.

The risk of disease or infection is much higher with a tick bite than a mosquito bite due to the numerous diseases that ticks can carry. Unlike mosquitoes, when a tick bites to feed, they latch onto the skin and will stay put for days, or until removed. Because of this, if a tick bites you, you will find it eventually; still attached. Removing a tick requires caution. Sometimes when a tick is removed, the body is pulled apart from the head, leaving the head still attached to you which can increase the risk of infection.

Here’s what you need to know to properly remove a tick:

  • Use tweezers to carefully grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull away from the skin firmly and smoothly, ensuring that the whole body is removed in one piece.
  • Any jerking or twisting may break parts of the tick off, leaving parts of the mouth still inside the skin. If this happens, use the tweezers to remove the leftover pieces.
  • Wash the affected area with soap and warm water, and keep an eye on it for the next few weeks for any change.
  • Once the tick is removed, place it in a dry, sealed container or bag. If a rash or fever appears in the next few weeks, your doctor can evaluate the tick that caused the illness, making treatment much easier and more effective.