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Bloodsuckers: Protect yourself from ticks, other pests

 

By Mark Taylor

The countryside is lush and green, fish, birds and animals are active, and summer's oppressive heat and humidity haven't arrived.

But that doesn't mean all is good and pleasant out there.

Spend a day afield and there's a chance you'll come back with more than pleasant memories and photos.Tick

You may pick up a pesky hitchhiker or two.

Ticks love spring, too.

They're out there perched on their grassy lairs, just waiting to jump on the next victim, be it a mouse, a rabbit, a deer or you.

If you're lucky you'll feel the crawly critter and pick it off before it sinks its head into your flesh.

Not lucky, you'll have to pluck the blood-engorged creature off.

Really not lucky?

You could be in for medical treatment if the tick happens to be carrying Lyme disease.

They want to suck your blood

Although there are hundreds of tick species in the world and about 80 in the United States, only a dozen are of much concern in this country.

In Virginia, the Lone Star and dog ticks were, until recently, the two species that were known to attach to humans.

And while the dog tick is a known transmitter of the potentially fatal Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, that disease is rare.

Mostly, a bite was just an annoyance.

Tick awareness has risen recently as blacklegged ticks have become more common in the Commonwealth.

Also known as deer ticks, blacklegged ticks are the only known transmitter of Lyme disease, a nasty malady that can cause headaches, fatigue, fever and skin rashes. Left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to serious neurological and joint problems.

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