No pretty pictures today, folks. But I do have a warning for those living in the Piedmont of North Carolina. I suspect this applies to the entire southeastern region of the US, thanks to the ridiculously mild weather that continues to dominate our region.
Here in NC, ticks and the diseases they carry are such a serious health concern that my state has a group devoted exclusively to this issue: the Tick-borne Infections Council of NC. My local chatlist just posted a warning from this group that I wanted to pass on to all you gardeners who are likely outside performing the same clean-up chores that I am tackling during this mild weather.
The bottom line for gardeners: Activate your standard tick-prevention measures:
- Tuck your pants into your socks.
- Spray Deet on your shoes and pants legs if you’re going to be in tall grass or heavy brush (and probably even when you’re in your garden).
- Meticulously check your clothes and your bodies when you return indoors. Wonder Spouse and I have found that lint rollers work very well for picking up tiny ticks that are hard for aging eyes to see. When you roll the roller over your clothes, the sticky tape picks up the ticks — so much easier than trying to spot them on your pants, especially if your clothes are dark colors.
- Don’t neglect your upper body either. Those evil suckers crawl mighty fast, especially when they’re tiny.
Note, please, that if you are bitten, these folks want you to save the tick. They need evidence, and so do you if you develop disease symptoms.
Here’s all you need to know from an expert:
Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2012 21:15:59 -0500
From: marcia e herman
Subject: Keep the tick please!
We (Tick-borne Infections Council of NC) have had reports of several people being bitten by “black-looking” ticks in the last few weeks. Please note:
1. These are likely the black-legged tick (used to be called deer tick) that carries Lyme disease and several other serious infections.
2. Adults of this species are active in the winter and have spread into NC over the last decade or so.
3. If you are bitten, watch for any rashes and/or flu-like symptoms for 30 days. Many people do not get a rash from an infection.
4. PLEASE KEEP THE TICK and let us know. This is important for yourself, in the event you become ill. It is helpful to show the tick to your doctor. Tick-borne Infections Council of NC needs to know about bites from these ticks. The conventional stance is that these ticks only rarely bite people in the south, and never in the winter. We need to see the ticks from any winter bites you may have to identify to tick and make a report to state public health. The easiest way to kill and keep the tick is to tape in on an index card. Note the date and place on your body. (You should do this in the summer as well with all ticks.)
Please notify us at firstname.lastname@example.org or the phone number below. Also, visit our website to learn the proper way to remove a tick and more. www.tic-nc.org
Lastly, become a member. There is no charge, though we do appreciate donations.
Please feel free to call with any questions. Thank you.
I promise my next post will be less creepy. 🙂
#1 by Marcia E Herman on January 11, 2012 - 3:19 pm
Thanks so much for sending out the word about our needing people to keep ticks that are biting them this winter and send them to us and for telling gardeners to be alert and careful. We are happy to speak to gardening groups.
Marcia E. Herman-Giddens, DrPH
Tick-borne Infections Council of NC, Inc
#2 by piedmontgardener on January 11, 2012 - 3:48 pm
Hi, Marcia. Of course, I’m happy to get the word out to my readers about proper tick protocols for our area.
You can’t garden without getting dirty, or encountering the creatures we share our space with. The trick is to be able to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys, and to know what to do when we meet one of the bad ones.
Thanks for stopping by.