To the Editor:
Even though it is very cold again, my dog ended up with a fully engorged deer tick this week from leaf litter in my small fenced yard in Bar Harbor.
So I was excited to see V. Paul Reynold’s column in the Islander, March 9, titled “New Tick Removal System.”
But while I appreciate it whenever someone adds to public awareness of deer ticks and the diseases they spread, it raises my heart rate to read myths about tick removal and imagine hundreds of people thinking they are doing the right thing, only to find out later that they were putting themselves in greater risk.
The “Rid-A-Tick” adhesive patch will not do much beyond localized hair removal, and for that, goal I recommend duct tape or your local beautician.
There are many tick-removal myths. Suffocating a tick is not a good method of removal. Ticks only breathe around 1-15 times per hour. They can survive a full cycle of hot water in the washing machine, being locked in zip lock bags for days, being frozen… They are very resilient.
Any action taken to induce suffocation, such as tape, oil, soap or wax, is likely to agitate the tick, which can trigger it to vomit its saliva and gut contents into the bite, thus raising the risk of transmitting infectious disease organisms.
And the tick need not be engorged nor attached 24 hours, transmission of diseases can happen in less than an hour.
Please, dear readers and editors, know that there are excellent sources of well-researched information on tick removal at Midcoast Lyme Disease Support & Education mldse.org and MaineLyme.org.