by Barry Baylis (The Caching Dead NY)
What interesting times we live in. A few months ago we were all introduced to a modern pandemic: Coronavirus and its mutated cousin COVID-19. We have been quarantined from work, school, shopping, restaurants, bars and pretty much everywhere else!! "Social Distancing" and "Self Quarantine" have become the common terms across all languages. This year's massive fashion explosion?? Face masks and disposable gloves. This year's "have to have" perfume ... whatever scent there is in a hand sanitizer. Life certainly has changed.
As for the Geocachers of Long Island, New York and the world? We took a hit as well. Events were cancelled. 20 year celebrations canceled. Caches were not being published. Group caching was no longer permitted under social distancing guidelines. Not to mention all the outdoor spaces we have come to enjoy have exploded with those MUGGLES! The preserves, open spaces, large park lands all invaded - deterring many of us from going into them.
Well here we are now. Months have passed. The air seems a bit cleaner. The parking lots? Not so much! Long Island and New York are beginning to come back to life. We began Stage 1 and, as of the day I am writing this, on the way to Stage 2 soon. Will everything go back to Normal?? No one knows at this point. But, people are returning to work and places of business are reopening. As for the caching, CACHES are being published once again! And what a way to get back on track - not one but TWO Geo-arts published!! From famine to feast! From nothing to a Duck and a Lighthouse!! Pretty cool! 62 mind churning Mystery Puzzles!! Of course others as well. Fun times.
However, there is another pandemic on the rise. One that never truly goes away. It dissipates at the end of every single year. Then it happens! Middle to late spring each year it starts to warm up a bit and then BAM!!! TICKS!!!! Those devilish, blood thirsty, parasite infested, disease spreading, Alpha-gal carrying, tiny Vampire Monsters appear!
So what can we do to protect our selves?
Several things. At the very least SPRAY your clothing with a Permethrin-based product. Permethrin has been proven to kill TICKS! Treat your clothing prior to wearing them. Shoes, socks, pants, shirts, hats everything you wear. You can even treat you backpack and other gear. It's important to read the product directions: spray form 6 to 8 inches away and hang treated clothes and gear to dry for at least 2 hours (4 hours if humid) before using.
You can add to this protection a Mosquito and Tick repellent that can be sprayed on your skin. I like Repel Tick Defense with Picaridin. A Deet-based products can be used as well. Don't forget, you should always check yourself every so often out on the trail as a precaution as well.
Done for the day. What should you do?
First have a lint roller in your car. Use this before you get in the car and drive off. Any buggers walking on your clothing will easily stick on the roller. From tiny nymphs to adults, ticks are not very strong while they travel. Let me back us up a little. It is also a really good idea to treat your car seats and flooring with Permethrin as well. Ticks can and will drop off in your car. Then when you take a drive out to the store in a few hours, you all of a sudden feel something crawling on your arm!! True story!! It happen to me!!
Now where were we? Oh yeah, you used a lint roller. Now you're back home. Are you done with your Tick concerns?? No. Go take a shower!! But first before getting in, do a through inspection!! Check yourself from head to toe! Check the places you wouldn't think possible for them to be in. Behind the ears, your scalp, arm pits, groin, between your toes, EVERYWHERE!! Remember they can be smaller then a pin head as nymphs.
What do you do if you end up with a Tick that borrows into your flesh?
First, under NO circumstance should you, burn, smother, squish or other wise harm the Tick!! In doing so, it WILL regurgitate it's stomach content into your body!!! This could contain, and is not limited to, parasites, viruses, bacterium and the Alpha-Gal enzymes. All of which you DO NOT want in your body. Nor do you want a part of the Ticks body left behind. For the second time I have mentioned Alpha-Gal. What is it? Simply put it's a sugar molecule injected by Lone Star Ticks into the body. In many people, this triggers an immune system reaction that later produces mild to severe allergic reactions when they eat Red Meat!
So how do you safely remove a Tick?
There are several ways to safely remove a Tick. You can use a Tick Key according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Most sporting good stores carry them. Or use VERY pointed tweezers! With tweezers, gently grab the Tick across its head, as close to your skin as possible. Make sure to apply a good amount of pressure. This will not only help to maintain a good grip on the Tick, but it will limit the Tick from injecting into the wound. Then pull the Tick straight off. You may see your flesh lift. Ticks are very strong when attached and their mouths are like a barbed sword. They don't come off easily at times.
Once you have gotten the Tick off, put it in a zipper bag with a dam piece of paper towel. Now exam the bite location. Use some kind of magnifier and check to see if there is any part of the Tick left. If there is, remove it. There may be signs that the Tick infected you with something, such as a red circle around the wound or red swollen tissue. Or there may be nothing at all. Go to the doctor. Blood work should be done and the Tick sent to a lab for testing. Your doctor will likely put you on a strong Antibiotic to combat Lyme's Disease and parasites. Either way go get checked and be safe on the trails!
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Ticks: Not Just Long Islands Predator!
I am The Caching Dead NY