The other day, my oldest son asked me to help him remove a couple of ticks from one of his cats.
Ric’s tom cat is appropriately named Riff-Raff, a beat-up and old black critter that comes to the porch to eat everyday with scars and burdock, and one ear sort of flopping to the side.
Riffy had a tick on his head and another on his shoulder. So, after filling his belly, we pulled the ticks that by this time had filled themselves with cat blood, for ticks are true vampires. They get on a host’s body, burrow or bite into the skin and suck in blood for nourishment. In doing so, they often leave diseases they carry.
Today, the great concern is Lyme Disease that is carried by the small deer tick. Lyme Disease was first discovered in Lyme, Conn., which just happens to be about 10 miles from Long Island Sound, where it is believed secret government tests were conducted on animals and ticks. Of course, the government denies this but … well, we all know it never tells the truth.
Anyway, for years Lyme Disease was considered a low-elevation disease found in river valleys and low-lying areas. Today that’s not the case. Lyme disease is everywhere and we must be more aware of it. When out in the woods and fields as many of us are, we have a good chance of contracting the disease because those ticks seem to be everywhere. People in Laurens, Morris and even Stamford have contracted the disease by hosting one of these small ticks. They have even been found in the Adirondacks.
We’ve heard you should inspect yourself after being outside and watch for that telltale, bull’s-eye circle around the tick after a bite. A friend of mine contracted the disease while cutting firewood and another while feeding hay to her horses this summer.
Lyme Disease is serious and can affect your joints, muscles and nervous system. Treatment with antibiotics is necessary, so seek medical help as soon as possible.
Those of us who hunt and fish have a good chance of being contacted by these ticks. They lurk on brush and grasses, waiting for us to brush by. Hikers, campers and even children playing in the yard are potential targets for these parasites. My granddaughter had a tick on her while playing on her lawn near Otego, but it wasn’t a deer tick.
Ticks are usually dormant as the weather turns cold, making them less of a threat but with mild winters, remain cautious.
Recently, I received an e-mail that there are also winter ticks. They usually live on large-hoofed animals. They’ve been found on deer and moose, but horses and cows make perfect hosts. I don’t think the winter tick is found in this area but beware. The e-mail had a picture of a moose with literally hundreds of ticks in its dense hair.
Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at email@example.com.