Northern Michigan 'seeing an explosion of tick activity'

Health officials share tips for prepare for season 

Blacklegged ticks are an emerging threat in Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. They can be found on low forest vegetation, often along human and animal trails. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in Michigan. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

Blacklegged ticks are an emerging threat in Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. They can be found on low forest vegetation, often along human and animal trails. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in Michigan. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

NORTHERN MICHIGAN — As summer begins and people spend more time outside, local health departments have been warning Michiganders about an increase in ticks.

“Areas across Michigan, including Northern Michigan, are seeing an explosion of tick activity this year,” officials from the District Health Department No. 10 stated in a news release.

To help avoid ticks, health officials offer the following tips.

• Be aware of surroundings: Most tick encounters happen in shady, moist wooded and grassy areas and fields near wooded areas.

• Apply EPA-registered insect repellent containing 20% or more DEET, picaridin or IR3535, to skin or clothing according to label’s instructions.

• Wearing clothing that has been treated with permethrin.

• Walking in the center of trails and avoid walking in areas with tall grass and brush.

• Conducting a full-body check of yourself and your pets for ticks after spending time outdoors.

• Drying clothing on high heat for 60 minutes to kill any remaining ticks.

• Taking a shower as soon as you can after coming indoors.

• Talking to your vet about tick bite prevention products for your pets.

When looking for ticks, feel for bumps or look for tiny brown spots, especially in the scalp, ears, underarms, belly button, waist, back, behind the knees, in between legs and pelvic areas. According to a fact sheet from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, ticks ten to bite in those areas.

If you find a tick, it may be removed using the following method.

1. Grasp the tick at the surface of your skin using fine-tipped tweezers.

2. Pull the tick straight up and out. Don’t twist or jerk the tick — this can cause the mouth parts to break off and stay in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth parts with tweezers if you can. If not, leave them alone and let your skin heal.

3. Clean the bite and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

4. Never crush a tick with your fingers. 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.

According to the MDHHS fact sheet, you may get a small bump or redness. If so, it will go away in 1-2 days, like a mosquito bite. “This is not a sign that you have Lyme disease.”

However, “see a doctor if you develop a fever, a rash, severe fatigue, muscle or joint pain, or facial paralysis within 30 days of being bitten by a tick.”

MDHHS also discourages the use of hot matches, nail polish or petroleum jelly to make the tick release its grip on your skin.

“Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible — do not wait for it to detach.”

Michigan also offers free tick identification resources. Physical ticks can be mailed to MDHHS using a Tick Submission Kit, available at local health departments.

Photos may be submitted to MDHHS-Bugs@michigan.gov. Note: This is for identification only.

MDHHS will not be testing the tick for diseases.