Fort McCoy News June 13, 2014

Take action to avoid common summer pests

STORY & PHOTO BY GENEVE N. MANKEL
Public Affairs Staff

Despite a long, frigid and record-breaking winter, ticks in the area are thriving.

David Beckmann, Fort McCoy Natural Resources Branch wildlife biologist, said there was hope the hard winter weather would lessen the occurrence of ticks, but they are out in full force.

Photo for tick article
Brochures, such as this one about ticks, are available at the Fort
McCoy Safety Office and the Permit Sales Office.

"The snow cover may have actually helped insulate the ticks (during the extremely cold weather)," he said. "We aren't seeing any reductions in the tick population from previous years."

Fort McCoy offers the right mix of landscape and weather conditions that make human contact with ticks probable.
Ticks prefer wooded areas with brush and vegetation and thrive in hot and humid conditions. Tick exposure can occur throughout most of the year.

"Ticks come out as soon as it's warm and the snow melts," he said. "During the spring turkey season hunters have seen ticks, and fall deer hunters have, too."

Beckmann said the three types of ticks found around the installation are the wood tick, which is the most common here, the deer tick — or blacklegged tick, and the lone star tick, which is rare but has been found in low numbers.

Several prevention measures can be taken to reduce tick exposure.

Beckmann said pants can be tucked into socks or boots and long-sleeved shirts should be worn. "You want to restrict ticks from getting onto your skin," he said.

Wearing light-colored clothing will allow ticks on the clothing to be more visible.

"After going out to the field, people should do a full-body check before a tick has a chance to get embedded."

On the chemical side, Beckmann said permethrin-containing products work well and are the best option in helping to reduce tick exposure. These products are generally designed to treat clothing and should not be applied to the skin.

Products containing DEET are not effective in repelling ticks, Beckmann said.

Deer ticks carry the most common tick-borne diseases, Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis.

After a tick is removed, the bite site should be monitored for a bull's-eye rash, which can indicate contraction of Lyme disease. Beckmann said not everyone gets this type of rash and should watch for flu like symptoms, which also could accompany Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

Military and Department of Defense civilian personnel who encounter ticks at the installation can remove the tick themselves, said Tracy Saboy, Fort McCoy Health Clinic chief. Personnel who are unable to remove the tick themselves can visit the health clinic, building 2669, for assistance.

Embedded ticks should be removed as soon as possible. Beckmann suggests using tweezers to pull the tick out. It's important to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull. Don't squeeze the tick too tightly to lessen the risk of squeezing fluid from the tick into the blood stream, he said.

A tick that has been attached for more than 24 hours, whether previously removed or still attached, should be taken to the health clinic, Saboy said.

The ticks are sent to an entomologist at the Public Health Command to be tested for disease, Saboy said. Based on the results, treatment for the affected person can be administered.

For questions regarding tick exposure, call the clinic at 608-388-3025.

Beckmann said it's also important to take precautions against ticks at home and with pets.

"It's especially important for dogs and cats to have some type of tick treatment, whether it is a collar or (topical product)."
Beckmann said by keeping yards maintained and vegetation down, the presence of ticks can be reduced greatly.

Precautions should also be taken to avoid mosquito exposure. Although the occurrence of mosquito-transmitting diseases in humans is extremely rare, mosquito bites can be irritating and bothersome.

Beckmann said mosquitoes are attracted to stagnant-water locations, such as ponds, and water collected in receptacles, such as tires, containers, flower pots etc.

Fort McCoy has not had a mosquito-control program in place for several years because the installation is required to reduce the amount of chemicals used that could affect the environment, Beckmann said. In many cases, mosquitoes can travel 10 miles or more from their hatching site.

Reducing the collection of stagnant water sources is the best mosquito-prevention method, he said. Products that have a concentrated amount of DEET work best as personal repellents. For more information about ticks or mosquitoes, call the Fort McCoy Natural Resources Branch at 608-388-2252.

A brochure containing information about ticks found in the area, created by the Natural Resources Branch in partnership with Michigan State University, is available at the Permit Sales office, building 2168, and the Installation Safety Office, building 1678.

This brochure, along with information on hazardous plants, can also be downloaded from the Fort McCoy i-Sportsman website at www.mccoy.isportsman.net.