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Published: Tuesday, 10/18/2011

Ticks a potentially dangerous nemesis for hunters

BY STEVE POLLICK
BLADE OUTDOORS EDITOR

At the back of any veteran bowhunter’s mind is a little bell that rings whenever he or she comes in from the field — to check for ticks.

These pestiferous little arachnids — relatives of eight-legged spiders, not six-legged insects like ants — are wont to crawl into your hairline while on a deer stand or into any unsealed cuffs. If they attach and begin their bloodsucking ways, beware. They may be infectious.

Two tick species of public health importance are becoming more common and expanding their range here. These would be the blacklegged tick and the lone star tick.

The Ohio Department of Health’s zoonotic disease program notes that lone star ticks now are common in southern Ohio. They can be found in shady areas along roads, meadows, and woods, and are active from May to the end of summer. They can transmit a bacterial disease called ehrlichiosis.

Blacklegged ticks, once considered rare in Ohio, now account for about five percent of annual suspected tick cases, primarily from eastern Ohio counties. These buggers are known transmitters of Lyme disease and other, less common human diseases.

Ohio State University researchers have confirmed that blacklegged ticks now are established in Coshocton County, a top bowhunting area. Ashtabula County, another prime hunting zone, was just added to the list, and other counties are likely to be included, said OSU extension entomologist Glen Needham. Tests done by the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine showed that ticks and white-footed mice collected from Coshocton County tested positive for the Lyme disease bacterium.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says Lyme disease cases have been rising since a national surveillance began in 1982. In 2010, more than 30,000 cases were reported, along with more than 8,500 probable cases. An average of 53 Lyme disease cases are reported in Ohio annually, about half acquired during travel outside the state.

Adult blacklegged ticks will seek hosts actively — people, pets, deer — not only in the fall but also on warm winter days. This is unlike lone star ticks or common American dog ticks, which are not active from September through March.

Unlike the case with pets and humans, wild animals such as deer are not affected by the blacklegged tick and suffer no ill effects from Lyme disease. Note too that Lyme disease cannot be transmitted by the consumption of venison. But hunting and dressing a downed deer can bring hunters into close contact with infected ticks.

To prevent contact, outer clothing should be sprayed with a permethin-based repellent the day before hunting and allowed to air-dry. Tuck pants into socks or boots and shirts into pants to keep ticks out. Ticks are hard to see on camouflage clothing like that worn in bowhunting.

To safely remove attached ticks, use tweezers or fingers protected by paper towel or tissue. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out with steady, even pressure. Do not use petroleum jelly, fingernail polish, alcohol, cigarettes, or matches to try to kill or stimulate the tick to release. Such folklorish methods do not work and may be dangerous.

The Ohio Department of Health Web site can help identify ticks and tick-borne diseases at odh.ohio.gov. Search the A-Z index using the word “tick.” The CDC Web site also has details on Lyme disease at cdc.gov/lyme.

Suspected lone star or blacklegged ticks can be taken to your local health department or mailed to Ohio Tick Survey, Zoonotic Disease Program, 8995 East Main Street, Building 22, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068.

Save the tick in a hard container, such as a pill bottle or film canister. Place a few blades of grass in the container with the tick. Mail as soon as possible but if needed, a suspect tick may be refrigerated for several days before mailing. Include name, address and phone number; date tick was collected; Ohio county where it was collected, and indicate whether or not the tick was attached to a person or animal.

The first sign of Lyme disease is usually an expanding large circular rash that appears from three to 30 days after attachment and lasts for days or weeks. This rash may be followed by fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. Seek prompt medical attention if any combination of symptoms occurs, and mention the possibility of Lyme disease. Antibiotics are very effective when the disease is detected early.

  • The all-purpose vehicle and snowmobile trail system at Maumee State Forest in northwestern Ohio is up for expansion, the Ohio Division of Forestry said.

“Division of Forestry staff members have been working with Toledo Trail Riders, a local volunteer group, on the design and location of trail sections for the expansion project,” said Gregg Maxfield, the division’s northern district forest manager.

The expanded trails will stretch seven miles when complete, nearly doubling the current 4.7 miles. The parking lot also will be renovated, adding about 16 more parking slots. The new trails should be in place by spring and the parking lot by summer, the district said.

The expansion is being bankrolled by the Ohio Recreational Vehicle Fund and from a Yamaha OHV Access Initiative grant of $5,391.

  • Only two weekends remain for the exhibit, “Best of the Outdoors Page,” at the National Center for Nature Photography at Secor Metropark, notes center staffer Karen Pugh. The exhibit features 20 mounted and framed posters of select pages from the book of the same title, published in September by The Blade and authored by Steve Pollick and Jeff Basting. The center will be open noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and again on Oct. 29 and 30. The telephone is 419-407-9757.
  • Upcoming – Saturday, airbrush painting techniques for fishing lures, including spoons, jigs, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits, demonstrated by Kevin Renner, artist and staff member at Jann’s Netcraft, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 3350 Briarwod Blvd., call Jann’s, 419-868-8288 extension 1.

Oct. 25 and 27, boating education course, 5 to 9 p.m., Gander Mountain, 1320 Holland-Sylvania Rd., Holland. Call the Ohio Division of Watercraft, Maumee Bay office, to register, 419-836-6003.

Contact Steve Pollick at: spollick@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.



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