April 26, 2010

Evaluating Tick-Removal Tools

Three researchers from the Acarology [ticks and mites] Laboratory at Ohio State University discuss tick-removal tools.

It's that time of year, even here in Colorado, which is not as "tick-y" as some places. I did pick up tick fever in Boulder County one May. What I remember from that is lying in bed for about three days with a splitting headache, too weak to pick up a handkerchief.
Ticks, potentially infected with disease causing agents, present an often-unrecognized risk associated with the wilderness habitat. Many people neglect to do frequent tick checks to interrupt feeding. The most effective method of interrupting tick feeding and stopping potential disease agent exchange is to mechanically remove the tick.
And that is what I failed to do after lolling in fresh springtime streamside vegetation. A day or two later we went to dinner at the Gold Hill Inn, and during the desert course I felt as though I were coming down with the flu—aches all over, fever, etc.

Hot match on the tick's butt? Don't bother, they say:
Needham tested several of these "folk" methods: fingernail polish, petroleum jelly, a glowing hot match and 70% isopropanol for their ability to induce ticks to "back out" or release from the host. He found that none of these methods initiated self detachment in adult lone star or American dog ticks.


Peculiar said...

I got tick fever in high school: no fun at all. I have no useful advice, but I do have a diverting anecdote. I was once on a river trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon, just rowing baggage, so I had no passengers. I was the last raft and quite a ways behind the others, and it was a long river day so we were going fast to make miles. As I was rowing along, I noticed two ticks starting to burrow into my armpit. Such a thing can't be ignored, but it was fast rocky water, I couldn't just drift and I didn't want to get any further behind. So while rowing continuous technical Class II, I dug a lighter out of my ammo box, got a twig from my bundle of firewood smouldering, and attempted to burn the ticks out of my armpit in eight-second intervals between rowing. Didn't work too well, and I would have cut quite a figure if anyone had been there to see. If it ever happens to you, just pull the hell over!

Chas S. Clifton said...

The question is then whether having tick fever gives any immunity, or can you catch it again?

Kelly said...

I have had my share of ticks, and so have my children. I have never gotten a fever from one, but I did have a humongous splitting headache for a few days, when I found the tick toward the back of my ear. You would have thought I would have noticed it being there during hair washings, but no. This time of year is horrible for ticks, especially with all the pines I have.
I love your blog btw!

Galen Geer said...

Let's see Chas,
Tick fever, check
Rattlesnake bite, check
Drop rifle from tree stand, check
Mud bath from doggie, check
Doggie eats hard won grouse, check
Friend puts your head through roof of suburban, check
You're all ready for another season of fishing and hunting.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Galen, those were just some events that you have been present to witness. :-)

Tovar@AMindfulCarnivore said...

The ticks are rampant here in Vermont this year. Thanks for the link that "tools" study.

Thanks, too, for adding me to your blog roll.

Zee Mathews said...

I never get tick fever though I am always worried about it. And good god that don't have pets.


Zee Mathews
The Salon Mangers Academy