An issue of increasing importance to Maine’s outdoorsy residents is ticks. Maine is home to several species of ticks; two of these, dog and deer ticks, will feed on humans fairly commonly and are often picked up during outdoor activities. The following information is summarized from the Maine CDC and University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s website (links below).
Dog ticks are more commonly found in open fields and lawns than other tick species due to being more resistant to dehydration. Dog ticks are known to carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever but there has never been a case confirmed to have been contracted in Maine.
Deer ticks also feed on humans, and are known to carry several diseases, the most common of which is Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a very serious infection and can cause partial paralysis, fatigue, joint pain and neurological impairments if left untreated. Early infections can potentially be diagnosed by a bull’s-eye shaped rash, fever, migraines, and fatigue. Deer ticks are most common near the coast and in southern Maine, however their range has been extending northward and they have been found in northern Aroostook County.
There are several steps you can use to prevent ticks from attaching themselves to your person. First off avoid areas with thick tall grass and stick to the centers of trails in areas where ticks are common. The Maine CDC makes other recommendations for avoiding tick-borne infections on their Prevention of Tick-Borne Disease page.
- Wear light colored clothes
- Tuck pant legs into socks so that sticks cannot crawl into your pants
- Use DEET based repellents on clothes (Avoid ingestion or direct contact with skin).
- Permethrin based repellents can be applied to clothes and will last several days
Most importantly you should check yourself for ticks on a daily basis. Ticks must be attached for at least 24 hours before transmitting Lyme disease. Checking every day and removing any ticks you find will more than likely prevent you from contracting the illness. Ticks can be removed by tweezers but at the Maine Conservation Corps we prefer to use brand tick removal spoons. These little plastic spoons can be easily attached to key chains and we often pass them out at career fairs.
Here are some instructions on how to remove a tick with these little spoons:
Once the tick has been isolated, is clearly visible and free from obstruction:
- Place the wide part of the notch on the skin near the tick (hold skin taut if necessary).
- Applying slight pressure downward on the skin.
- Slide the remover forward so the small part of the notch is framing the tick.
Continuous forward sliding motion detaches the tick.
For more information on ticks check out Maine’s ticks check out the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s website. For more on Lyme disease please visit the Maine CDC’s website.
This Post Written and Prepared by Dylan Cookson: AmeriCorps Member and MCC Volunteer and Outreach Corrdinator
Contributions to the article made by:
- Krista Rogers: MCC Community Leader and Environmental Steward Program Coordinator
- Sara Maloney: MCC Field Crew Member who provided the tick featured in this articles photographs.