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Enjoy the warm weather but watch for those ticks

April 28, 2014 - Jenny Rukenbrod

Spring has sprung, Chilly temperatures remain in the forecast and ear muffs on the riding lawn mower will be a necessary fashion accessory. After one of the toughest winters in Ohio history, when finally the sun breaks through to shine warmly, it be welcomed with wide open arms. However, in a community where people and pets are connected, an unwelcome visitor awaits. Nothing conjures up the heebie jeebies in me like the thought of some blood sucking parasite. In this case, the "tick" is really a hairy, disgusting arachnid, like a spider, whose survival depends on embedding itself under the skin of its unsuspecting host where it must eat to survive. When researching the topic for this article, I could not bring myself to watch an internet video which shows a tick's method for making its way into its new feeding station. Attention getting words like "drilling, sawing or cutting motion" are bad enough. But, the fact is, that is not all they do to reach their subcutaneous diner at all! If you are eating your breakfast while reading this column, you may want to delay one or the other. But, knowing the gory details about this disease carrying creeper may provide the motivation to be more vigilant at avoiding its assault. According to the biological research journal, Proceedings B, "dual appendages attached to the top of their heads" basically saw back and forth into the skin while advancing the tick's body into the newly created opening. Once penetrated deep enough, just like a drywall anchor, the head bends back against the inside of the skin. Get the picture? But wait, the horror isn't over. The compassionate parasite also injects chemicals into the skin throughout its invasion so as not to be detected or interrupted. Once the "harpoon-like appendage" is pushed past the head into the skin "like a straw", the real blood sucking begins. Who needs a video with that description? Vampires DO live among us! Tick species and disease transmission are related to your geographical location. A juvenile tick is miniscule, loaded with toxic fluid that can lead to Lyme disease. In my mind, the only good tick is one that is not attached to something that requires oxygen to survive. Your pets and livestock are susceptible to tick infestation. Regular "hands-on" inspection and repellents can keep them pest free. The same goes for humans. Although the tick is totally blind, it uses hook like legs to attach onto fur, feathers, skin or clothing where it crawls to its nutrition source. Once aboard and re-fueled, it can relocate from an animal to you and/or your furnishings to await further opportunity. At The Humane Society of Columbiana County, we say "Ick, Ick, Fleas and Ticks" for good reason. Prevention is surely better than the cure. So, whether you are a hunter, a horseman, a hiker or a human pet owner, make sure you are on high-alert and your defense arsenal stocked. In a community where people and pets are connected, preparedness and vigilance can lead to that safe and enjoyable Summer season we ALL so richly deserve.

Jenny R. Pike HSCC President 330-420-5397 "Animal cruelty is not an animal problem, it is a people problem".

For additional information about the Humane Society of Columbiana County


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