As the Risk of Lyme Disease Proliferates, A Conversation With ‘Tick Man’ Dan Wolff (As Well As A Jefferson Health Link to Help Avoid Tick Bites)

UPDATE: Jefferson Health also just shared a post about avoiding tick bites in the Delaware Valley and beyond. You should totally check it out.

It’s been about three years since I caught Lyme Disease. Sure, the whole pandemic that came along at the same time has served as a distraction, but it’s still an annoyance. Every time I’m feeling inexplicably exhausted, I chalk it up to that damn tick that targeted me in the suburban back yard that July 2020 day.

I mention that by way of explaining why you’re seeing this post on the site today. You see, I still get a ton of pitches for Philly Blunt but – having professionally leapt from journalism to media relations – I don’t jump at as many of them as I would’ve back in the day.

The pitch from “Tick Man” Dan Wolff, founder of TickEase, well, I felt personally obligated to write about. It’s not about bolstering some upstart who needs attention for his products and knowledge. A simple search online shows that his word is out there. Rather, I just wanted to share some alarming facts in the hopes that it’ll help you avoid my sometimes-fatigued predicament.

It boils down to this:

  • Pennsylvania is the No. 1 state for ticks in the country.
  • With an evolving climate – namely conditions that bring about deer-population proliferaton – it’s only getting worse on a year-round basis.

Dan and I spent about a half hour on the phone the other night. We talked about how everybody reacts a little differently when the catch Lyme, the frightening increase in tick-spreading wildlife.

“We need to take everything seriously. Tick checks. Basic precautions. Anything that can reduce the risk,” said Dan, who estimated that he’d been bitten hundreds of times and removed thousands upon thousands of ticks each outdoors season in New England.

Of his inspiration to start producing products, he said, “when I found one on my 12-year-old son, I knew I had to do something. I can’t keep doing what I love and putting my family at risk.”

Upon finding a lapse in prevention information and proper tick removal, he decided to fill in the gap.

“Proper tick removal is a small thing in the process, but when combined with all other protection, it’s an important piece. I bet we can reduce some of this suffering from tick-born illnesses,” he recalls of his mindset before launching – in 2014 – Tick Ease. “With improper tick removal, you’re upping the risk. Everyone was saying use pointy tweezers but I found no items that met that criteria looking around my basement. That’s when I got to work with tin-foil models.”

In the years since, he’s gotten patents and has seen roughly 250,000 kits sold. He’s grown from there and now has a relationship with New England universities that will break down photos of ticks to let users know if they’re in danger. (He noted that he sold 1,000 to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.)

Each Tick-Kit ($23.99) is a little yellow box (resembles something one might see on a boat) emblazoned with directions on how to remove ticks from both people and pets, as well as numbers to call the CDC and the Tick Testing website.

Inside are the custom-made tweezers (one end specially designed to remove ticks from humans, the other from pets), instructions, bags into which to place the ticks, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic swabs and more. It’s one-stop shopping for the frantic moments after you find a tick digging its way into your skin. (Wish I had it in 2020!) He also sent along a tick-repelling bandana for dogs, like our Scarlett will be sporting soon!

“If I can help people and make a living doing it, I’m perfectly fine with that,” Dan told me, while noting that there are no longer defined tick seasons, that it’s now a year-round concern. (How reassuring!)

In closing, here are a few tips he’s offered for those who get bitten by ticks, as it’s “important to dislodge embedded ticks from the skin’s surface as soon as possible to minimize the effects of the bite.”

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers as recommended by the CDC such as the TickEase, 2 -sided tweezer for human and pet tick removal tickease.com. Made from stainless steel it removes all sizes and types of ticks and can be heat sterilized.

 

  • Steadily grasp the tick; using the tweezers take hold of the tick as close as possible to the skin’s surface and pull upward in a steady motion.

 

  • Use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to clean the bite area and tweezers when done.

 

  • Attached ticks should be never be disposed of or destroyed. Keep them in a zip-loc bag for identification and testing.  Remember a diseased tick does not necessarily transmit illness.

 

  • Call your doctor if…you experience flulike symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle or joint pain, stomach issues or a target-shaped rash that can develop within three to 30 days. If bitten by a tick in area where Lyme is prevalent, a physician may suggest and prescribe a precautionary dose of antibiotics to reduce the risk of getting infected.

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