COLUMBUS - Hunters and outdoors enthusiasts should be aware of a relatively new tick in Ohio, the blacklegged "deer" tick, according to the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
Blacklegged ticks once were considered rare in Ohio, but the state likely now has established populations in 26 counties, most east of Interstate 71 where deciduous forests are present.
These small, dark ticks are known transmitters of Lyme disease and remain active throughout the year, including the fall and winter when temperatures are above freezing.
Unlike pets and humans, wild animals such as deer are not affected by the blacklegged tick and suffer no ill effects from Lyme disease. Additionally, Lyme disease cannot be transmitted by the consumption of venison.
Hunters should remember hunting and dressing deer may bring them into close contact with infected ticks. Be aware composting deer hides may introduce these unwanted ticks in new areas.
Everyone, especially hunters, should be aware of the threat and take precautions to prevent tick attachment. Outer clothing should be sprayed with a permethrin-based repellent, according to label directions before hunting and allowed to thoroughly air dry. Once dry, the clothing produces no odor. Pants should be tucked into socks or boots and shirts into pants to keep ticks on the outside of clothing.
Ticks are difficult to spot on camouflage clothing. All clothing should be carefully inspected for small, dark crawling ticks before entering vehicles and going indoors. Once indoors, thoroughly check for small, attached ticks.
Remove attached ticks as soon as they are discovered to reduce the risk of contracting tick-borne diseases.
For individuals to safely remove ticks from themselves, hunting dogs or deer, people should use tweezers or their fingers protected by rubber gloves. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out with steady, even pressure. Do not use petroleum jelly, fingernail polish, alcohol, cigarettes, matches, or other similar methods to try to kill or stimulate the tick to back out. These methods do not work, delay proper removal and may be dangerous.
People should familiarize themselves with the symptoms for Lyme disease by going to www.cdc.gov/lyme.
ODH's website has more on tick identification and tick-borne diseases at www.odh.ohio.gov.