I remember reading about how the head of Duke University’s Medical School died of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever because a tick bit him and he didn’t realize it.
The fever and vomiting begin early. It is not until it has nearly killed you that the infamous spots appear. That is the start of the death knell.
So nothing creeps me out quite like finding a tick on my person. Or the dog. Or you.
The Boy Scout manual of my youth taught that the way to persuade a tick to evacuate your flesh is to coat it with petroleum jelly. The suffocating beastie backs out and then you can flick it off. I’ve recently learned that this is a bad approach. When forced to depart, the tick vomits up whatever is in its belly and this can include the bacteria about which I have written much. You also don’t want to torture it with a recently burnt match head for the same reason. What you want is to get the tick out. Liz of Real Food Liz advices a couple of approaches, the first for the roving tick which has not inserted itself into your skin:
Keep a roll of clear packing tape in your fanny pack. Never leave home without your fanny pack. (Obviously.)
Use the tape to “grab” the tick and seal it off without touching it with your bare hands. Torture and shame the tick at will for its horrifying lifestyle choices. (Just kidding.) (Kind of.)
Ticks infest Liz’s life so I accept that she knows what she is talking about. When my dog’s vet found one, he just pulled it out with his fingers — what Liz would call “getting medieval”. She recommends a product called Ticked Off:
The ticked off tick remover is safe, effective and easy-to-use A specially designed notch grabs the tick at skin level and removes it completely in one motion Bowl-shaped end securely contains the tick for easy disposal Helps reduce risk of disease; veterinarian and physician endorsed Measures 6-inch length by 4-inch width by 1-inch height
I can only imagine myself getting confused by the measuring spoon shape — tick flavoring anyone? — but given that Liz has collected many ticks in her time homesteading, I will listen to her advice.
Ticks are serious trouble. The chaparral hiker enjoys wide fire roads, so there isn’t much of a call to bushwhack. If you do, follow Liz’s counsel and have the right tools on hand to annihilate the little bastards. As one dying person said, it is not death that she fears but the process you have to go through to get there. Lyme Disease and Spotted Fever strike me as distinctly unpleasant vehicles towards this end.