Tick Safety Tips!

Stay safe in the outdoors with these easy tick tips! Photo credit NYC.gov.

Tick Safety Tips! Ticks and what you need to know to stay safe! It is that time of year in the Smoky Mountains. Summertime and outdoor activities brings the risk of exposure to ticks for you and your pets. Some basic guidelines for reducing your chances of encountering ticks include avoiding wooded and brushy areas with tall grass and abundant leaf litter. Another great tip is always walk in the middle of trails while hiking. For those bushwhackers out there keep reading to learn how to protect yourself with these facts provided by the CDC.

To repel ticks on skin and clothing always use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours and be sure to follow the instructions included on the product. Parents should be cautious when applying these products to children being careful to avoid the eyes, mouth and nose! Products that contain permethrin are best used on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is sometimes available and may provide extended protection. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a great guide to selection a repellent.

How to find and remove ticks from your body!

  • Showering within two hours of being outdoors can aid in washing off ticks that have not begun feeding on you.

  • Have a loved one, or someone you are not too modest around, to

    Have a friend give you a post hike tick check. Photo credit: Vermont Dept. of Health.

    conduct a full body search. Pay close attention to areas that remain moist like armpits, belly buttons, hair and the crotch area.

  • Check all gear carefully and take a close look at your pets. Those furry friends can’t tell you when they have a tick on them.

  • Wash dirty clothes in hot, soapy water for at least 60 minutes and dry on a high temperature. If clothes are clean dry on a high temp for at least ten minutes.

 The most common symptoms of tick-related illnesses are:

  • Fever/chills: With all tickborne diseases, patients can experience fever at varying degrees and time of onset.

  • Aches and pains: Tickborne disease symptoms include headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. With Lyme disease you may also experience joint pain. The severity and time of onset of these symptoms can depend on the disease and the patient’s personal tolerance level.

  • Rash: Lyme disease, southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), ehrlichiosis, and tularemia can result in distinctive rashes:

    • In Lyme disease, the rash appears within 3-30 days, usually before the onset of fever. Lyme disease rash is the first sign of infection and is usually a circular rash called erythema migrans or EM. This occurs in approximately 70-80% of infected persons and begins at the site of a tick bite. It may be warm, but is not usually painful. Some patients develop additional EM lesions in other areas of the body several days later.

    • The (STARI) rash is nearly identical to that of Lyme disease, with a red, expanding “bulls eye” lesion that develops around the site of a lone star tick bite. STARI has not been linked to any arthritic or neurologic symptoms.

    • Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) varies greatly from person to person in appearance, location, and time of onset of symptoms. About 10% of people with RMSF never get a rash. If they do, the rash begins 2-5 days after the onset of fever as small, flat, pink, non-itchy spots (macules) on the wrists, forearms, and ankles and spreads to the trunk. It also occasionally occurs on  the palms and soles. The red to purple, spotted (petechial) rash of RMSF is usually not seen until six days or more after onset of symptoms. It occurs in 35-60% of patients with the infection.

    • The most common form of tularemia results in a skin ulcer at the site where the organism entered the body. The ulcer includes swelling of regional lymph glands, usually in the armpit or groin.

    • In about 30% of patients (and nearly 60% of children), ehrlichiosis  causes a rash. The rash ranges from macular to maculopapular to petechial, and may appear after fever occures.

Tickborne diseases can result in mild symptoms treatable at home to severe infections requiring hospitalization. Although easily treated with antibiotics, these diseases can be difficult for physicians to diagnose. However, early recognition and treatment of the infection decreases the risk of serious complications. So see your doctor immediately if you have been bitten by a tick and experience any of the symptoms described here.

Tick paralysis is a rare disease thought to be caused by a toxin in tick saliva. The symptoms include acute, ascending, flaccid paralysis that is often confused with other neurologic disorders or diseases (e.g., Guillain-Barré syndrome or botulism). Within 24 hours of removing the tick, the paralysis typically subsides.

Ticks find their hosts by detecting animals´ breath and body odors. They also can sense body heat, moisture, and vibrations. Some species can even recognize a shadow. Ticks choose a site by identifying well-used paths; they rest on the tips of grasses and shrubs and wait to ambush a host. Ticks can’t fly or jump but wait for a chance to latch on in a position known as “questing”.

Ticks come in a variety of sizes. Photo credit: Washington State Dept. of Health.

While questing, ticks hold onto leaves and grass by their third and fourth pair of legs. They hold the first pair of legs outstretched, waiting to climb on to the host. When a host brushes the spot where a tick is waiting, it quickly climbs aboard. Some ticks will attach quickly and others will wander, looking for places like the ear, or other areas where the skin is thinner.

How ticks spread disease

Ticks transmit pathogens that cause disease through the process of feeding in the following ways.

1. Depending on the tick species and its stage of life, preparing to feed can take from 10 minutes to 2 hours. When the tick finds a feeding spot, it grasps the skin and cuts into the surface.

2. The tick then inserts its feeding tube. Many species also secrete a cement-like substance that keeps them firmly attached during the meal. The feeding tube can have barbs which help keep the tick in place.

3. Ticks also can secrete small amounts of saliva with anesthetic properties so that the animal or person can’t feel that the tick has attached itself. If the tick is in a sheltered spot, it can go unnoticed.

4. A tick will suck the blood slowly for several days. If the host animal has a bloodborne infection, the tick will ingest the pathogens with the blood.

5. Small amounts of saliva from the tick may also enter the skin of the host animal during the feeding process. If the tick contains a pathogen, the organism may be transmitted to the host animal in this way.

6. After feeding, most ticks will drop off and prepare for the next life stage. At its next feeding, it can then transmit an acquired disease to the new host.

Ticks are a cause for true concern when enjoying the outdoors so take the necessary precautions and stay safe while you are in the wild!



Check out this fast and easy way to remove ticks!

More Hey Smokies Features:

Cades Cove Car Ban
Cades Cove Car Ban...
Cades Cove car ban is under way. Cades Cove Car Ban begins May 4, 2022 through September 28, 2022.  Cove visitors are encouraged t[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Tamale Recipe
Smoky Mountain Tamale Recipe...
Smoky Mountain Tamale recipe. Homemade tamales are always a Smoky Mountain special event! Did you know that the Smoky Mountains are on the [Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Dates Announced
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Dates Announced...
Smoky Mountain synchronous firefly dates announced. Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Dates Announced. Great Smoky Mountains National Park [Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Trail Volunteers Needed
Smoky Mountain Trail Volunteers Needed...
Smoky Mountain Trail Volunteers Needed. GSMNP is recruiting volunteers to adopt a trail along the 848 miles of maintained trails across the[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Smoky Mountain Parking Fee Proposed...
Smoky Mountain Parking Fee Proposed. GSMNP officials are seeking public input on proposed fee program changes for 2023, including a new pa[Read More >>]
Clingmans Dome Opens To Public
Clingmans Dome Opens To Public...
Clingmans Dome road opens to public! Clingmans Dome Opens To Public April 14, 2022. Clingmans Dome road normally opens April 1st. The delay [Read More >>]
Pigeon Forge Spring Rod Run
Pigeon Forge Spring Rod Run...
Pigeon Forge rod run will get your motor running! Pigeon Forge Spring Rod Run will get your motor running! The area's largest automotive eve[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Cades Cove Buffalo Herd Stampede...
Cades Cove Buffalo Herd Stampedes through the valley. Millions of visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were treated to a ver[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Southern Mac And Cheese Recipe
Smoky Mountain Southern Mac And Cheese Recipe...
Smoky Mountain Southern Mac And Cheese Recipe is the perfect side dish for any meal and sometimes it is a great meal all by itself. All you ne[Read More >>]
The Cades Cove Experience in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Cades Cove Experience in Great Smoky Mountains National Park...
The 6,800-acre valley comprising Cades Cove, one of the most visited areas of the park, provides a glimpse of a bygone mountain lifestyle. Trave[Read More >>]
Bears in Great Smoky Mountains | What You Need to Know
Bears in Great Smoky Mountains | What You Need to Know...
With the tourist season in full swing and a record number of visitors to the Smoky Mountains last year, the opportunities for an encounter with [Read More >>]
Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway...
Did you know that the Blue Ridge Parkway is connected to Great Smoky Mountains National Park? That's right; another National Park is a[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Welcomes 14.1 Million Visitors In 2021....
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Welcomes 14.1 Million Visitors In 2021. GSMNP experienced the busiest year on record with 14,137,812 vi[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Historic Walker Sisters Cabin Closed To Public
Smoky Mountain Historic Walker Sisters Cabin Closed To Public...
Smoky Mountain Historic Walker Sisters Cabin Closed To Public due to safety concerns. Built in the 1800's the cabin was occupied by the Wal[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Ice Curls
Smoky Mountain Ice Curls...
Smoky Mountain ice curls, whorls, tufts, feathers and mounds—all forms that natural ice can take on the ground under the right conditions. In a[Read More >>]
New Year Beans And Greens Recipe
New Year Beans And Greens Recipe...
New Year Beans And Greens Recipe. What is behind the Southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Years day? Some folk[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Smoky Mountain Geminid Meteor Shower...
The Geminid meteor shower will peak in 2021 on the night of Monday, December 13th and 14th. The Geminids are a reliable shower for those wh[Read More >>]
Enjoy a Drive on Scenic Highway 129 near the Great Smoky Mountains and Experience the Tail of the Dragon!
Enjoy a Drive on Scenic Highway 129 near the Great Smoky Mountains and Experience the Tail of the Dragon!...
Scenic Highway 129 starts in languid Chiefland, Florida, a far cry from the blue haze and cooler temperatures of the Great Smoky Mountains. Hund[Read More >>]
Christmas Cookie Recipe
Christmas Cookie Recipe...
Christmas Cookie Recipe. When the holidays arrive in the Great Smoky Mountains there are many HeySmokies sweet treat favorites but the tradition[Read More >>]
The Clingmans Dome Experience in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Clingmans Dome Experience in Great Smoky Mountains National Park...
…feeling great at CLINGMANS DOME!  Clingmans Dome is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This[Read More >>]