Practice Tick Safety to Avoid Tick-Borne Diseases

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As livestock producers and farmers in general we spend a lot of time out in the same environment as a lot of little pests. Some big enough to see easily. Some, other than being extremely aggravating, are completely harmless, others carry diseases that could change our daily lives with just one tiny bite. Livestock producers especially enjoy a meal that most often includes red meat. One type of tick, the Lone Star Tick has the potential to create an allergic reaction to red meat. There is no cure for the red meat allergy however, just because you have been bitten by a Lone Star Tick does not mean that you will develop the allergy. The best way to prevent tick-borne diseases, is to prevent being bitten.

livestock producerTicks in general not only carry Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever but they can also carry other scary diseases. As farmers and outdoorsmen, we can help prevent being bitten by ticks by using several methods. First, we should consider where tick habitat is and take preventative measures. As farmers we are in tick habitat daily. Pastures, barns, and wood lines are prime areas to pick up ticks on our clothing. Simply tucking our pants legs into boot tops can help prevent a tick from making contact with our skin long enough to be spotted and removed. Wearing lighter colored clothing will also aid in spotting ticks, and wearing clothing that has either been treated with labeled repellents or using a repellent that is designed to deter ticks is also a great preventative measure, always follow the label when using a product. Clothing can also be run through a hot clothes dryer to kill any ticks that may have hitched a ride inside. Even when using these methods, we should still do regular “tick checks” when coming inside or even throughout the day. Check yourself or have someone check you. Most farms have pets. Any household pet should also be checked regularly especially when coming indoors after being outside. Pets should also be using a flea and tick prevention as well to avoid bringing in ticks that then get passed on to their owners.

tick in tweezers

In the event that you or someone in your household is bitten by a tick, knowing the proper way to remove it will be critical. You should use a pointed set of tweezers to remove the embedded tick as soon as possible. Grab the tick as close to the head as possible, pull slow and steady increasing pressure until it releases. If parts of the tick remain attached use a needle as you would to remove a splinter to remove all the parts of the tick then wash the area with soap and water and treat it with alcohol. Once the tick has been removed it is a good idea to keep the tick in an alcohol solution in a sealed container with the date you were bitten. This will be helpful in case there is a complication to identify the tick and what may have been transmitted.

If you have been bitten by a tick and experience an adverse reaction, please contact medical professionals. N.C. Cooperative Extension can assist in identifying ticks and other pests that may be found on livestock and in pastures as it pertains to livestock management.

Producers or prospective producers can find out more information pertaining to this article by contacting Kendra Fortner at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Jackson County Center at 828-586-4009 or the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Swain County Center at 828- 488-3848 or by email at