Iowans who are hunting mushrooms, hiking on trails or camping out in the woods need to be on guard for a bug — besides the mosquito. Along with the warmer weather, ticks are coming out of Iowa’s woodwork. Tom Gahan, a microbiologist at the University Hygienic Lab in Iowa City, says if a tick latches onto you, first — don’t panic. Second — get it off as quickly and completely as possible using a tweezers to apply gentle even pressure until it releases. Gahan says ticks can carry all sorts of diseases, including Lyme disease, but he says in Iowa it is not a serious problem at this point.Suggestions for avoiding ticks include: tucking your pant legs into your socks and your shirttails at the waist. Gahan also suggests you wear light-colored clothing to make the dark-colored ticks easier to spot if they get on you. Gahan says to use repellent, particularly those high in a material called “Deet”, when spending time in woody areas. If you’ve been snacked upon by a tick and a rash or flu-like symptoms develop, Gahan says to see a doctor. If you can save the insect and suspect an illness, you can have the tick tested free by sending it to Iowa City. Call the Lab for details at 800 421-4692.
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