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Tick talk, WVU Extension expert offers tips on avoiding ticks

A pointer finger is shown here with three types of ticks of varying sizes resting on the skin surface.

As warmer weather approaches, potential exposure to ticks increases. To help people prepare, a WVU Extension expert has advice for ways to avoid ticks and the dangerous diseases they carry. (WVU Extension Photo)

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As spring blooms and people spend more time outside, exposure to ticks and the diseases they carry increases significantly. West Virginia University Extension Entomology Specialist Carlos Quesada is providing helpful information and advice about how to avoid tick bites this season.


“Ticks are arthropods, but not insects, and are closely related to spiders and mites. Hard ticks and soft ticks are the two families of ticks in the United States, with American dog ticks, blacklegged ticks and lone star ticks being the most common hard ticks in West Virginia that can transmit diseases to humans.

“These types are three-host ticks, which means they drop off and reattach to a new host during each life stage, which includes larval, nymphal and adult stages. Ticks acquire the bacterial agent that causes Lyme disease from hosts such as mice, shrews, chipmunks or other small animals. Deer do not carry the bacteria.

“Typically, the blacklegged tick requires at least 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease to humans. Nymphs are the most likely to transmit the pathogen that causes Lyme disease because they are smaller than adults and harder to spot.

“Personal protection is important for avoiding ticks. For example, wear proper clothing such as suitable footwear, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants tucked into socks, when visiting places with the likelihood of encountering ticks. Light-colored clothing helps with detecting ticks easily. Sticking to paths or designated trails also reduces encounters with ticks.

“Taking a shower within two hours of being exposed and placing your clothes in the dryer on high for 10 minutes will get rid of any missed ticks, as they like to crawl around before attaching to the host.” Carlos Quesada, assistant professor and entomology specialist, WVU Extension

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