Last updated: June 17. 2014 11:48AM - 521 Views

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Summer is here and so is tick season. Years ago, ticks just used to be just a nasty nuisance but any more, these little guys can be a serious health hazard both for humans and our animal friends.

I despise these little blood suckers and one of my worse memories is having a gobbler strutting just out of gun range while I had a tick crawling up my thumb while I am aiming the shotgun. I couldn’t move or I would spook the gobbler so I watched nervously trying to work the tom but keeping one eye on that tick so could dispatch him after I killed the bird.

Today, one of the biggest concerns with ticks is a relatively newcomer, the Blacklegged tick, which can spread Lyme disease. Blacklegged ticks, which were rare in the state prior to 2009, have been found in 57 Ohio counties. Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, the blacklegged tick is established in 33 counties (it becomes established after six ticks, or at least two life stages identified), and 24 are endemic for Lyme disease (two or more lab-confirmed cases with local exposure or infected ticks confirmed). Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the U.S. and Ohio.

The first established blacklegged tick (also called deer tick) population was discovered in Coshocton County in 2010, and field studies of ticks and white-footed mice there demonstrated a zoonotic presence of Lyme disease. Confirming the presence of the vector tick was the removal of 1,830 adult specimens from 560 white-tailed deer in November 2011 (17 percent infested). The previous year only 29 blacklegged ticks were collected from approximately 200 deer (6 percent infested). The vector tick and pathogen are expanding in distribution.

Blacklegged ticks may be active throughout the year, but greatest exposure occurs in the summer and fall when tiny poppy-seed sized nymphs and apple-seed sized adults are most active. Exposure risks for people and pets have increased significantly in Ohio. Review of disease signs/symptoms, diagnosis criteria, reporting and treatment is encouraged. Advice for outdoor users includes use of repellents (25 percent DEET or 0.5 percent permethrin on fabric), wearing proper clothing, forcible removal of ticks, and saving specimens for identification. Proper tick identification is essential in determining the potential risk of infection associated with a tick-borne disease.

• The Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Department of Agriculture announced that testing of Ohio’s deer herd found no evidence of chronic wasting disease, which is a degenerative brain disease that affects elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer.

State and federal agriculture and wildlife officials collected tissue samples from 753 deer killed on Ohio’s roads from September 2013 through March 2014. An additional 88 hunter-harvested mature bucks and nine deer displaying symptoms consistent with CWD were tested as well. According to the ODNR Division of Wildlife, all samples were negative for CWD for the 12th consecutive year. Since CWD was first discovered in the late 1960s in the western United States, there has been no evidence that the disease can be transmitted to humans.

Since 2002, the ODNR Division of Wildlife, in conjunction with the ODA Division of Animal Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife and Veterinary Services, has conducted surveillance throughout the state for CWD. While CWD has never been found in Ohio’s deer herd, it had been diagnosed in wild and captive deer, moose or elk elsewhere in the United States and Canada.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife continues to carefully monitor the health of Ohio’s wild deer herd throughout the year. Visit ohioagriculture.gov or wildohio.gov for the latest information on CWD or the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance at cwd-info.org. All CWD testing is performed at the ODA Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.

• Applications are now being accepted for controlled deer and waterfowl hunts on selected Ohio public areas during the 2014-2015 season, according to the ODNR. Hunters have until Thursday, July 31, to submit permit applications for a random drawing.

These special hunts are held on selected public areas to provide additional opportunities for Ohio’s hunting enthusiasts. All applicants, youth and adult, must possess a 2014-2015 Ohio hunting license and meet the age requirements in order to apply for a controlled hunt.

Hunters can apply for the controlled hunts by completing the application process online using the Wild Ohio Customer Center at wildohio.gov or by calling 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543) and requesting a mail-in application. There is a non-refundable application fee of $3 per hunt.

Hunters will be randomly drawn from submitted applications. Successful applicants will be notified and provided additional hunt information by mail and email. Applicants are encouraged to visit the Wild Ohio Customer Center to view the status of their application and, if selected, print their controlled hunt permit.

More specific information about hunt dates and locations, including opportunities dedicated to youth, women and mobility-impaired hunters, can be found at wildohio.gov.

Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!

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