Fort Sill RAHC specialists talks tick risk and prevention
1 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A tick, discovered during the tick drag, is collected for testing. June 22, 2022. (Photo Credit: Neal Kirmer) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fort Sill RAHC specialists talks tick risk and prevention
2 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Spc. Victoria Jensen, Medical Department Activity, Fort Sill, examines the cloth used to drag for ticks at Ambrosia Park. Ticks that are found are then collected and sent for testing. June 22, 2022. (Photo Credit: Neal Kirmer) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fort Sill RAHC specialists talks tick risk and prevention
3 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – After being placed within a secure container, a tick is examined to determine what type of ticks are present. June 22, 2022 (Photo Credit: Neal Kirmer) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fort Sill RAHC specialists talks tick risk and prevention
4 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Spc. Logan Davis, left, and Spc. Victoria Jensen, Medical Department Activity, Fort Sill, examines specimens and note how many each container holds. June 22, 2022. (Photo Credit: Christopher Wilson) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fort Sill RAHC specialists talks tick risk and prevention
5 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A Tick Test Kit, which can be obtained at Reynolds Army Health Clinic. June 22, 2022. (Photo Credit: Neal Kirmer) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT SILL, OKla. (June 23, 2022) — Ticks pose a potential threat year-round. Those who work outside or are frequently in outdoor settings are at an increased risk for contact with ticks.

“Ticks are more active during the warmer months between April and September, but are present year-round” says Jason Smith, environmental protection specialist at Reynolds Army Health Clinic.

Ticks can transmit several vector-borne diseases. “The most common diseases are Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever with a new disease called Heartland Disease which first gained attention in 2009,” said Smith.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Lyme disease can cause fever, headache, fatigue and skin rash. If left untreated the infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Signs of prolonged Lyme disease can include severe headaches, dizziness, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet. Facial Palsy is a possible symptom and presents as a loss of muscle tone or a droop on one or both sides of the face.

Avoidance is the best way to prevent the transmission of tick-borne diseases. Avoid grassy, brushy or wooded areas. Do not handle wild animals such as deer or rabbits. Treat clothing and gear with products that contain 0.5% permethrin. There are other Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved insect repellents. A full list can be found at https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents.

Fort Sill routinely conducts “tick drags” said Smith. During these events, ticks are gathered, cataloged and sent away for testing.  Maintenance crews also keep recreational areas well maintained as ticks inhabit taller grasses and brush.

Checking for ticks after outdoor activities is also recommended. Inspect clothing and pets for the presence of ticks and shower soon after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check upon returning from potentially tick-infested areas. Smith recommends that you check under the arms, in and around the hair, between the legs and around the waist, “...check anywhere that clothing fits tight against your body.”

If a tick is found, remove it as soon as possible. Smith said the best method for removal is to “use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull upward at a 90-degree angle to remove the entire tick.” Do not twist or jerk the tick. If any part of the tick remains embedded remove as much as possible with tweezers while cleaning and disinfecting the area.

If possible, collect the tick using a DoD MilTICK testing kit. Kits may be obtained at Reynolds Army Health Clinic. If a rash or fever develops after removal, consult a physician. Inform them of when the bite occurred and the most likely location that you encountered the tick.

Smith added, “To avoid ticks, stick to areas that are mowed and well maintained. Avoid tree lines and tall grass, as those areas are where wild animals tend to be and are where you will likely find ticks.”