A Lone Star tick was spotted recently during an environmental survey at Fort Drum, serving as a reminder for community members about ways they can prevent tick bites while enjoying the outdoors. (U.S. Army photo)Fort Drum community members can take advantage of the free MilTICK program at Environmental Health, Bldg. 19 on First West Street. Army Public Health Command recently updated the Military Tick Identification / Infection Confirmation Kit (MilTICK) program to increase the availability for submitting ticks for testing. All active and retired service members, DoD civilians and contractors, and beneficiaries are eligible for this program. For more information, click on the flyer. (Fort Drum MEDDAC Environmental Health)
Single Lone Star tick sighting at Fort Drum reminds community members to stay alert for outdoor pests
Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (July 30, 2020) – An unwelcomed guest found its way onto Fort Drum last week in the form of a Lone Star tick.
The intruding pest was captured during a tick survey conducted by West Virginia University, as part of a project funded through Fort Drum Public Works’ Natural Resources Branch.
According to the Natural Resources Branch, this is the first known observation of a Lone Star tick on post. While it is common in Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states, the Lone Star tick has been expanding into the Northeast with recorded sightings in counties throughout central New York.
“Adding another tick species to be on the lookout for isn’t a major concern,” said Jason Wagner, Natural Resources Branch chief. “Awareness is the key. Always wear your PPE (personal protective equipment), check for ticks after every trip into the field, and if you get bit, tell your doctor so they can check you and treat you appropriately.”
The deer tick, or blacklegged tick, is more prevalent in the North Country, and it is one of three types that bite humans. It is also the only tick that can spread Lyme disease.
The Lone Star tick is more aggressive, and it can transmit a variety of diseases. Its saliva also can spark allergies to meat.
“The adult Lone Star tick is larger than our common blacklegged ticks, and the females have the distinct white dot on their back,” Wagner added.
Ticks, which are eight-legged arachnids, are unable to jump or fly. They mostly live in shady, moist areas at ground level. They cling to tall grass, brush and shrubs, normally no more than two feet off the ground. A tick will latch onto a passing host and then crawl upward toward thinner areas of the skin where there are more blood vessels. This includes the thigh, groin, armpit, scalp and behind the ear.
The signature rash of a Lyme tick bite looks like a solid red oval or a bull’s-eye mark. Initial symptoms include headache, fatigue, rash and fever.
The best way to prevent tick bites is to wear permethrin-treated clothing or use a spray on your skin that contains DEET. Tucking pant legs into socks, and shirt into pants, is one way to deter ticks from reaching their destination. It is also advisable to shower after returning from outdoor activities and to conduct a thorough tick check.
A tick can be removed with pointy tweezers, grasping at it as close to the skin as possible and pulling it off with firm, even pressure. Wash the bite area with warm water and soap, and then apply an antiseptic. Inform your primary care provider if any symptoms occur.
Wagner said that if people spend enough time outdoors in this area, they will find the occasional tick.
“That is normal,” he said. “Do your tick checks each trip out, and enjoy the great outdoors.”
Wagner also recommended that community members take advantage of the free MilTICK program at Environmental Health, Bldg. 19 on First West Street. Army Public Health Command recently updated the Military Tick Identification / Infection Confirmation Kit (MilTICK) program to increase the availability for submitting ticks for testing. All active and retired service members, DoD civilians and contractors, and beneficiaries are eligible for this program.
For more information about the MilTICK program, call the Environmental Health Department at (315) 772-7678.