Tick Season Off to an Early Start

Some unwelcome hitchhikers are already making their way around Nebraska - we're talking ticks, and this year they're getting an early start.

Dr. Tim Overmiller says this warm spring has flea and tick products jumping off the shelves at the Animal Clinic in Hastings.

"A lot of times I tell people it's more of a May thing or maybe a late April thing and all of a sudden here we were in March looking at ticks," says Overmiller.

Overmiller says topical repellants provide more coverage than a flea and tick collar, but warns pet owners to ensure they're using the right product and strength on their cat or dog.

He says at the Animal Clinic they check for tick borne illnesses when they check pets for other problems.

"We make a routine of checking for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and for ehrlichiosis and for Lyme disease - it's all included in the heartworm test now," says Overmiller.

Protecting your pets can help keep ticks out of your home, but health officials say if you're planning on spending time outdoors, especially in wooded and brushy areas, there are things you can do to protect yourself too.

"You can start repelling them using an insect repellant containing DEET or using a product that contains permethrin," says Michele Bever, Executive Director of the South Heartland District Health Department.

But if you are in wooded or bushy areas and do find a tick attached, Bever says removing it is simple.

"The best thing to do is make sure you use fine tipped tweezers and go down along where the head of the tick is attached, so as close to the skin as you can, and then pull directly up with steady pressure," she says.

Redness around the tick bite, fever, aches, and pains can be symptoms of tick borne illnesses like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Tularemia. Bever says if you do pull off a tick, putting it in a bag and sticking it in the freezer is a good idea in case a doctor needs to identify it later.

Bever also says that deer ticks, known for carrying Lyme disease, aren't as common in Nebraska, but with people and pets traveling to different areas of the country, it's always important to check for ticks no matter where you are.

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