Take the Guess Work Out of Tick Bites and Send Ticks to the UMaine Tick Lab
Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions or personal experiences.
Ticks appear to be worse than ever this year. I think back to my own childhood playing outside without a care in the world, and now I avoid grassy and wooded areas like the plague.
My Facebook feed is full of posts about pet owners pulling ticks off their pup by the dozen each and every day. Instagram pictures of ticks lined up one on top of another on a long blade of grass.
WGME recently outlined the 5 disease-carrying ticks in Maine.
First is the deer tick the very common and very tiny tick. These little guys can pack a huge punch; Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, powassan, and babesiosis.
Then there are woodchuck and squirrel ticks that can transmit powassan.
Dog ticks can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and taluaremia.
Then there are the lone star ticks. These are the ones that can make you allergic to red meat due to transmitting the Alpha-gal sugar molecule.
This time of year is when we should be on high alert, particularly about deer ticks. This time of year the young deer ticks are emerging according to News Center Maine and it's at this stage of development that they're exceptionally difficult to see and thus go undetected increasing the risk for disease.
Because of all of these diseases, it's important to do your due diligence if you do find that you have been bitten.
UMaine Tick Lab
Gone are the days of pulling off a tick and hoping for the best or keeping an eye out for a bullseye. The University of Maine has been operating a Tick Lab.
Here's how it works; visit their website here and click on "Submit a Tick". Fill out the form and your $15 payment for the service of testing the tick for diseases. Or if you simply want to identify the tick you can do so at no cost. Then follow their instructions to mail them the tick in a sealed envelope.
The diseases they are able to test for are Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Borrelia miyamotoi disease, Rocky Mountain spotted Vever, ehrlichiosis, and tularemia. You'll typically see your results within 3 business days after they receive the tick.
Personally, that $15 is worth every cent and more for the peace of mind it could provide or a roadmap to start a discussion with a medical professional.
Nothing is foolproof but here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control to help keep yourself from being bit.
Treat your clothes and gear with products that contains 0.5% of permethrin and use insect repellant that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535. Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.
Upon returning home thoroughly check yourself and your clothes and gear for ticks. All the nooks and crannies. Have someone help you with those difficult-to-see areas if possible. Then take a shower.
Stay safe out there!