Tick It Away This Summer

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Summer is the time for outdoor fun with hiking trips, day trips to water parks or sports games, but it is also the prime time for ticks to latch onto exposed skin. Manhasset’s Dr. Joseph Licata explains how to prevent tick bites and what residents should do if they find a tick on themselves. The pediatrician even created his own tick removal device called Tick it Away to combat the issues many have with removing ticks.
“In the summertime everyone goes outdoors and there are a lot of family activities,” explained Licata. “But with the heightened outdoor time, there is more exposure to ticks. I think people are becoming more aware of tick-related illnesses from the media. The media has focused in on how to prevent tick bites.”
Licata explained that there are many precautions to take while being outdoors this summer. Some tick prevention tips include minimizing exposure to high grass, utilizing tick repellent, using tick repellent on clothing, trying to have as little exposed skin as possible when in high grass areas and using tick products for pets so they are protected.
“My focus has always been that despite all of these preventions, eventually someone will get a tick bite,” said Licata. “My focus is on once you get a tick bite. That is a very crucial moment in preventing disease. Proper removal is so crucial. The information people are getting can be misleading, so I wish the media would focus in on it more.”
Many people are misinformed about removing ticks, explained Licata. Many try to smother the tick with irritants or crush and squeeze the tick; however these methods will irritate the tick, causing it to secrete its solution.
“The idea is to remove them without irritating them,” said Licata. “You don’t want to squeeze that tick. If a tick’s been on for a while it can regurgitate some of the infections it’s acquired from other feedings. What you want to do is get tweezers, grab the head and pull it up. It sounds simple, but people don’t have fine tick tweezers to grab it. It’s not even the size of a sesame seed. Many people get eyebrow tweezers, but they’re just squeezing the tick.”
The difficulty with finding the right pair of tweezers for a tick caused Licata to create his own device to aid tick removal.
“I’m a pediatrician, so I would encounter kids with ticks a lot,” said Licata. “One day a little girl came in with a tick and I could not remove it. While I was manipulating and moving the tick I thought to myself, ‘I just need a little crowbar.’ So when I went home, I made this little device out of an aluminum can and I used it the next time a kid came in with a tick.”
Licata went on to produce and patent Tick it Away, a device that uses a prying motion to detach an attached tick away from the skin, similar to the action of a crowbar on a nail. Tick it Away is sold in the Northeast in pet stores, pharmacies, Whole Foods stores and supermarkets.
“I have it on the market because it’s the simplest way to remove it without doing what you don’t want to do,” said Licata. “You should do all prevention you can, but know how to take it off properly, if necessary. Proper and immediate removal are so crucial in preventing disease. Take it off before it’s been 24 hours and do tick checks on yourself, kids and pets after you’re outside. Even the following morning it is important to do a check because the tick has had time to find a place to latch on.”
Licata explains that it is also important to know which type of tick has latched on, as ticks have been found to carry new viruses and diseases. Different ticks carry different viruses, explained Licata, so it is very important to detect which kind of tick has latched on. Black-legged ticks can transmit Babesia microti, in which microscopic parasites infect red blood cells, [causing} Lyme disease and Powassan disease. The lone star tick can transmit Ehrlichiosis and Tularemia. The American dog tick and the brown dog tick can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
“Knowing which tick [it is} helps you be aware of what you could be exposed to,” said Licata. “You can go online to www.cdc.gov and see what it looks like or take it to the doctor. They can identify what kind of tick and see what potential symptoms this might transmit.”
Licata reminds residents to take every step possible in preventing ticks, do checks on your family and pets often and remove ticks properly by utilizing tick removal devices as to not irritate the tick.

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Elizabeth Johnson is editor of Manhasset Press and Port Washington News, special features including the Business Quarterly column, Manhasset Magazine, Pride In Port, Port Washington News, Port Gift Guide and other special sections. Growing up in nearby Garden City and attending New York University, she is well-versed in the locale and knowledgeable about the beat she covers. Her community involvement is extensive and includes the Manhasset SCA, Kiwanis International, Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s Church, and various civic and local charitable organizations. Curious by nature, her travels, community service, love of the arts as well as local sports give her the inside view to unique content. During her time at Anton, she has received several awards from the New York Press Association and the Press Club of LI, including the coveted "Best Community newspaper" several years in a row.

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