Veterinarian, Infectious Disease Specialist explain why you should check yourself and your pets for ticks

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News First at Four

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) – When the weather is warm and you want to spend some time outdoors, it is important to be aware of how easily ticks can work their way onto you and your pets.

“Ticks and tick-borne illnesses are the real deal in Spring and Summer,” said Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Fares Khater.

When it comes to your pets, fleas and ticks can be uncomfortable and dangerous to have on their body for long periods of time.

“Things that we worry about with heavy parasitism, especially the blood sucker family, is severe anemia,” said Dr. William Hagans at Town & Country Animal Clinic.

Dr. Hagans added that you can tell if your pet has flea or ticks by noticing any red or raised areas on their body or hair loss around their tail.

“if they’re on monthly preventives as they should be, then [fleas and ticks] will die anyway, but the longer that those parasites stay on a pet, the increased chances are that they will actually spread diseases,” he said.

Dr. Khater said whether ticks are spread from your pets or caught while outdoors, it is important to ensure they do not stay on your body for too long.

“The timing is very important,” he said.

Dr. Khater added that ticks will not transmit diseases, like Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, until they’ve been on your body for more than 24 to 48 hours.

He said in many cases of tick-borne illness, people are treated with antibiotics and experience no long-term effects.

But Dr. Khater added that if you find a tick on your body and have started experiencing a fever, rash, nausea or vomiting, you should pluck the tick with tweezers, secure it in a plastic baggie, and call your doctor.

Dr. Khater said ticks gravitate toward areas of skin that are exposed, but can quickly migrate to more hidden areas such as the underarms, lower back and the nape of the neck.

“They are classically on the skin-exposed areas and that’s why we advise people to wear a screen, like a DEET spray or an insect repellant spray, but sometimes they can be found under areas of the skin that are covered,” he added.

Before you get rid of any ticks you find on you or your pets, the University of Kentucky entomology department wants you to mail them to their office to see if they carry diseases or not.

You can call your local UK extension office to learn more about how you need to mail them and where to send them to.

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