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Ticks Should Not Be Trifled With

Avoid a nonchalant attitude toward ticks. Diseases and/or allergic reactions are possible. Our goal should be to never get bitten by any tick. Although that’s easier said than done, and some would even say unreasonable, precautions should be taken to minimize risks of being bitten by a tick.

Let me start by emphasizing that I am not a medical doctor. All medical advice and treatment should come from a licensed medical professional.

Lyme disease is probably the most widely known disease that can result from a bite from the black-legged tick (a.k.a. deer tick).

Recently, the Indiana Department of Health released 2017-21 maps showing collections of black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) nymphs and adults in Indiana counties, and the percentage of those ticks that carried the causative agent for Lyme disease. 

In Whitley County, of 23 adult ticks that were sampled, 0 adults carried Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterial pathogen that causes Lyme disease. Of the 18 immature nymphs sampled, 1-19.9% did carry the pathogen.

According to the report, the highest numbers of ticks and the highest percentages of pathogen-infected ticks tended to occur in northern Indiana, and in random western and southern Indiana counties.

While much attention is on Lyme disease, it is important to note that other tick-borne diseases are present in Indiana. The Indiana Department of Health website states, “These data are intended to provide members of the public and health care providers with information on where ticks infected with B. burgdorferi have been detected in Indiana. However, it is important to remember that black-legged ticks have been found in most Indiana counties. In addition, other tick-borne diseases such as ehrlichiosis and the spotted fever group rickettsioses are present in Indiana, but are not shown on this map. Hoosiers should take precautions against tick bites when spending time outdoors in all parts of the state.”

Besides the black-legged tick, other tick species in Indiana include: the lone star tick, American dog tick (a.k.a. wood tick), brown dog tick, and a newcomer, the Gulf Coast tick. The Gulf Coast tick was originally only found in the southeastern U.S., but has migrated northward in recent years, and it has been found in Indiana. Other tick species may migrate to Indiana over time.

Dr. Timothy J. Gibb, Purdue Extension entomologist and author of the Purdue Extension publication, Ticks, wrote, “The most frequently encountered outdoor species is the American dog tick (also known as the eastern wood tick).” He added that the lone star tick and, more recently, the deer tick may also be found occasionally in outdoor, wooded areas. The brown dog tick may sometimes become a problem indoors, primarily in association with dogs.

Gibb recommended personal protection measures such as avoiding tick-infested areas, wearing protecting clothing, staying on established trails, and avoiding brushing against vegetation. He recommended an insect repellant on lower extremities and on clothing. Permethrin products (an insecticide) labeled for application to clothing can also be used. Check yourself and your children for ticks, and shower after coming indoors. Inspect pets for ticks, and remove ticks found.

If you are bitten by a tick, do not panic. Carefully remove the tick, including its mouthparts, from your skin using tweezers or blunt forceps with steady, even pressure. Take care not to squeeze, crush, or puncture the tick. Disinfect the bite site and wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. Monitor your health the following days. Consult a physician immediately if a rash or flu-like symptoms develop. It is wise to save the tick in a sealed plastic bag for reference. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website states, “In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted.” However, other tick-borne diseases may be transmitted more quickly. Consult your healthcare professional for additional information and suggestions.

The bottom line: try to avoid all tick bites!

For more information, find Purdue Extension’s publication on ticks (with pictures included), plus related publications, online at The Education Store: CDC also has important information at Find the aforementioned Indiana Department of Health report at:

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