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COVID-19 threw its worst at you and you're still standing. Don't let a little blood-sucking arachnid take you down.

As spring progresses, ticks start to multiply, becoming more common. While they're born pathogen-free, they don't stay that way. They take on a variety of diseases from the animals they feed upon. Those diseases — such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and several other tick-borne illnesses — can be debilitating, even life-threatening, to humans.

If you or your family — yes, that includes pets — have been outside and potentially around ticks, they should be checked.

Fort Leonard Wood, the military base in the Ozarks, offers these tips to avoid tick bites:

Avoid walking through uncut fields and brush. Walk in the center of mowed trails to avoid brushing up against vegetation that may harbor ticks.

Spray clothing and exposed skin with a DEET-based insect repellant.

Wear appropriate clothing, especially in wooded areas, including long pants tucked into socks, shoes or boots. Choose light-colored clothing, which allows wearers to see ticks more easily.

Wash clothes in hot water and dry on high heat to kill whatever may be hiding on them.

Avoid touching or interacting with wildlife, which in almost every case is better left alone, said Sherri Russell, Missouri Department of Conservation state wildlife veterinarian.

To remove a tick, disinfect the surrounding area with an alcohol swab and use tweezers to pull them out from as close to the skin as possible.

The good news is that if you remove the tick within several hours of being bitten, you can avoid the transmission of disease.

So go out in the great outdoors this summer and enjoy yourself. Just avoid ticks if you can, and quickly remove them if you can't.

News Tribune

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