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Metal Detector Blog

May 31, 2017
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Detectorists Be Warned: Ticks

Categories: Tips

I felt it was a good idea to discuss a current threat to all of us who go metal detecting outdoors- ticks. Detectorists have to protect themselves now. Depending on where you live, the problem can be worse for tick bites. I go out detecting all the time and now is the time to protect yourself. Disease carrying ticks are out in record numbers and people could die from the illness carried by these nasty guys. Experts are calling this season a “tick apocalypse” as record numbers of people being bit are getting sick.

I know of several treasure hunting friends that have gotten bit. I’m going to talk briefly about the disease carrying ticks, illness signs & symptoms and preventative measures best for detectorists.

People attribute the rise in tick activity to warmer weather and an increase in in rodent population, which gives more food to the baby ticks. When the temperature rises, they look for a host to latch onto and lay eggs. They feed on the blood of birds, reptiles and mammals. The deer ticks are the big danger. Be on the lookout for both the female and male deer ticks.

The females have an orange, red body with a blackish-brown shield between the body & mouth parts. The males have light brown bodies and larger, blackish-brown shields. They’re found in knee high, low shrubs and branch tips. Unlike the females, male ticks can’t actually spread the disease because they don’t feed on their hosts. Still, they have the bacteria. One of my friends found a great article in her health magazine (see image below). In general, all ticks hangout on leaf strewn forest floors, edge of the woods, shady & damp places, and knee high grasses or meadows.

If you see a tick on your skin, don’t panic. You have 36 hours for it to adhere to your skin and transfer the bacteria. If you get a chance to remove it for that period, it’s likely it hasn’t had a chance to spread the bacteria. I tell people to look for the one with solid black-brown shield on its back. The longer a tick is on you, the larger it grows. By the end of seven days, it doubles its size! So, remove it as soon as you can. After you’ve been bitten and to remove a tick, all you need to do is grab some fine tweezers.

Grab the tick as close you can to where it’s attached to your skin. Pull upward with even pressure. If you twist or jerk, the tick’s mouthparts will remain in the skin. Then, clean and disinfect the bite. I recommend checking other areas of your body to see if you have more of them. Pay attention to the back of the knees, scalp, armpits, private areas, etc. If you’re not sure and need expert advice, take a picture of the tick and bite and send it to TickSpotter.org.

Continue to monitor yourself and how you feel. If you see what looks like a bulls eye/target rash, see a doctor. It would develop within two weeks of being bitten. There are other types of rashes you can get. See the image below. They also could be scattered red patches with dusty centers, a solid, red oval, etc. Symptoms of Lyme disease include: fever, chills, fatigue, aches, etc. These mimic the symptoms of the flu and can occur for up to month after being bitten.

Powassan virus is another life threatening illness. It’s transmitted by three types of ticks, including the Lyme Disease one. Powassan virus mimics the flu also, but some people have trouble maintaining consciousness and develop seizures. A blood test could show that you may have Lyme Disease or the new virus. There are antibiotics available if you test positive for it.

Here’s what you can do as a detectorist to protect yourself. Make sure you wear boots and tuck your pants into them, in order to prevent them from crawling up your leg. You need to spritz your body, clothes and shoes with 0.5 percent permethrin insecticide or DEET. There are many brands you can use. As long as you see those ingredients, use those products. The experts recommend spraying outdoors and let dry. Reapply after swimming or sweating. Wash all your clothes in hot water to kill ticks. Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants and light colored clothing. For outside, use residential insecticides such as FenvaStar EcoCap, Bifen IT, or Pivot Ultra Aerosol.

Now you have the info you need as a detectorist to be aware of ticks and to avoid them. Being outdoors is great, but having this knowledge helps you keeps you well and prepared. Here’s to your next great hunt, tick free!

Happy Treasure Hunting!

Sources:

Mark: Sources to add at the bottom:

Women's Health Magazine

http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/20170525/avoid-woods-to-prevent-tick-bites

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/03/health/powassan-tick-virus/

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/05/09/tick-season-what-you-need-know/D51gWjSIiKegERFsbGe0UI/story.html

Dennis

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