Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Look what the cat dragged home.

Well, don't look literally - the cat did bring something home, but we made no photograph before picking it up, carrying it to the candle and burning it into nice crisp black oblivion. Yes, it was a tick - the first she brought home this season (at least the first one that we found).

So here's the obligatory Springtime-is-start-of-tick-season post:
Are you living in or planning to travel to a place in Europe that has ticks carrying the TBE virus? If so, have you checked your vaccination status? It's recommended to refresh the vaccination every 5 years, every 3 years if you are older than 60. TBE is a nasty thing, and the easiest way to avoid it apart from spending all your time inside is the vaccination.

Ticks can also give you Lyme Borreliosis, which is bacterial and also quite nasty, but there's no vaccine against it.

For those of you who need to refresh tick-bite avoidance and treatment stuff, because you are lucky enough not to get in contact with ticks often:
Wear long clothes when walking through nature, especially if you are walking through high grass, undergrowth, and along forest edges. Check yourself for ticks after being outside, enlisting the help of other people or a mirror for the hard-to-see spots. If you find any ticks, remove them as soon as possible, using a suitable tool; do not cover them in oil or glue. You can get tick-removal tools in every pharmacy (and also in pet shops). There's different kinds of them; we have a sling-type tool called "3iX" that we are very happy with, as it also works well on the cat (our main field of use) and will grip even tiny ticks.  It has been said that just pulling out the tick without twisting is better; personally, I feel it goes out more easily with the old "turn it around a few times, pulling gently" method. Dabbing some disinfectant over the spot where the tick was cannot hurt once it's out.

Once you have the tick out, check if it has come out completely or if the head is still in the wound (that can happen sometimes). Then destroy it. Do not just flush it down the loo - it will laugh at you, ticks can happily survive for weeks under water. Either douse it with boiling water (must have more than 70°C to work), squash it completely (that can be messy) or use metal tweezers to hold it into a flame and burn it. Dead ticks are good ticks.

Fun fact: Sometimes you get a tick that has a tick on its back. A Two-fer. These two, my friends, are doing the Nasty. The Beast with Two Backs. They are humping along. Making more tick eggs.  Or however else you want to describe it. If you kill these two, you have just rid the world of about 1000 more potential ticks...

(Disclaimer, in case it's necessary: I am, in general, an animal-friendly person. I'm one of those who carry the spider out, and make sure the bumblebee gets out of the house too. There are, however, three exceptions: ticks, moths and carpet beetles. Well, four if you count that I will slap a mosquito if it bites me. If you are a small chitin-clad creature that wants my blood or my wool, I will not give you quarter!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see that Mayen appears to be in a tick-free area!
Britain's moat can be unpredictable in what it lets across: there are ticks and Lymes disease but no TBE as yet.