The Heartland Retreat Center

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About Ticks

Yes there are ticks at the HRC as well as most other places in North America and Europe that have deer. Some of these ticks do carry bacteria that can make people sick however there are a lot of things our friends at the HRC do to decrease the chance of you coming into contact with ticks.

What has been done to minimize the risk?

  1. We mow areas as ticks do not like to be in shorter grasses - staying on the mowed paths out of the tall grasses is very important (this is 95% effective at preventing exposure to ticks)
  2. We spread tick tubes to help decrease the numbers of ticks that feed on mice which will decrease the ticks carrying bacteria
  3. We provide bug spray that contains DEET for people to apply on their clothing / shoes to kill / repel ticks
  4. We provide permethrin based spray for tents to repel ticks
  5. We have mulched areas to help decrease tick habitat
  6. Information cards and mirrors are located in bathrooms to facilitate tick checks
  7. Tick density studies have been done, so the areas of the land with fewest/most ticks are known.
  8. Ticks that are collected are sent in to be analyzed for disease.
  9. An owl house has been installed. The aim to attract an owl, which will naturally keep mouse population (therefore infected ticks) down.

We have not sprayed along the edges of trails and we do not supply natural (non-chemical) repellents because these are not effective.

What you can do to stay safe

  1. Stay on mowed paths - out of long / tall grasses
  2. Wear long pants and boots or socks over the long pants so the ticks have to climb a long way to access uncovered skin
  3. Wear light colored clothing so the ticks will be easier to spot because they are black or reddish in color
  4. Apply provided bug sprays to their boots or clothing and to outside of tents or perimeter around tents
  5. Shower daily and use supplied mirrors to check for ticks (or have a buddy check you for ticks - they prefer thin skinned areas (armpits, thighs, etc)

Ticks are ubiquitous throughout the world and different ticks carry different bacterial diseases. The above recommendations should be followed whenever you are in the wilderness or areas where there are tall grasses / wildlife.

What to do if you find a tick

  1. Ask the medical team to remove the tick or if you remove it yourself place it in a ziploc bag and take it to the medical team so it can be identified. Not all ticks are deer ticks and the other types of ticks pose little to no risk of carrying a bacteria that could make you ill. These ticks will be labeled and can be submitted to a lab to be tested for disease
  2. Clean the area thoroughly with anti bacterial soap and water
  3. When you go home pay attention to if you feel sick (cold or flu symptoms) - if this happens see a doctor and tell them you were bitten by a deer tick. They will prescribe antibiotics that will take care of this issue when caught in its earliest stages

Myths about ticks

  1. Ticks cannot jump or fall from trees (they must climb up blades of grass and wait for someone to pass by for them to climb onto) - this is why mowing is so effective
  2. If you get bitten by a tick you will get sick - a tick must be attached for at least 24 hours in order to transmit a bacteria into people b/c of the way it is transmitted (this is why daily tick checks and shower are effective ways to prevent disease)
  3. You will know if you are bitten - ticks are small and often times unnoticeable which is why enlisting a friends help to check you daily is the best practice
  4. All ticks carry disease - only those ticks that fed on a mouse and picked up the organism can transmit it to you. They are not born with the disease. That means not all ticks carry disease or can transmit it.
  5. Ticks can be removed with vaseline, perfume, etc - only way to remove a tick is to apply gentle pressure using tweezers or a tick twister or tick key to remove the tick and it's mouth parts. Then clean the skin with soap and water
  6. Ticks die every winter - actually they have a 2 yr lifespan but only feed 1-2 times per year.

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