What if you Find a Tick on Safari?

24May
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Ticks in Malaria Free Eastern Cape Safari

An Eastern Cape safari is sure to provide the thrills of the Big 5 without the risk of malaria. However, there are some creepy crawlies that might try to follow you home.

Kariega Game Reserve Elephant

What is a Tick?

Ticks are small eight legged creatures that are classified as Arachnida (a classification that includes spiders). There are over 800 species of ticks throughout the world and only two families of ticks transmit diseases or illness to humans. Ticks must ingest blood to complete their complex life cycles.

Where do Ticks Occur?

Ticks occur in many parts of the world and Africa is no exception. Ticks occur mostly in rural and wilderness areas throughout South Africa, including at Kariega Game Reserve.  

How do you get Tick Bite Fever?

The bite of an infected tick can cause tick bite fever. The bite of baby ticks, often called pepper ticks because they are so small, can still transmit the infection. In fact, these small ticks are difficult to see and so are most often responsible for transmitting tick bite fever.

There are two types of tick bite fever. The most common type in game reserve areas is called African tick bite fever and usually results in a milder infection. 

How to Avoid Being Bitten by a Tick while on Safari?

There is no vaccine or medicine that prevents African tick bite fever. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing tick bites.

We suggest the following:

  1. Wear long sleeve shirts and trousers while out on the reserve, particularly for game walks and stops on game drives.
  2. Try to walk along the centre of the paths and do not to brush unnecessarily along the long grass.
  3. An insect repellent containing a chemical called DEET (Tabard or Peaceful Sleep) can help keep ticks away. Spray your shoes, socks and trousers with the repellent. Repellent is available in your Kariega suite or chalet, at reception or from your ranger.
  4. Examine yourself (and family or friends) for ticks after each game excursion to check that no ticks have attached themselves. Check carefully under the arms, behind the knees and in the groin area.

What is the Best Way to Remove a Tick?

Ticks need to be attached for a while to transmit the rickettsias. When found they should be removed promptly to decrease the risk of getting tick bite fever.

It is best to remove a tick using a pair of tweezers. Pull firmly yet gently as close to your skin as possible. Do not squeeze the tick. Try to ensure that no mouthparts are left behind. Do not squash the tick with your fingers. Dispose of the tick or keep it in a container if you think you have been bitten. It is a good idea to then wash your hands and the bitten area with antibacterial soap.

If you do find a tick on your body do not smother it with Vaseline and do not burn it off with a lighter.

What are the Symptoms of African Tick Bite Fever?

Most people get sick 5 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected tick. You will most likely see a small dark brown or black scab surrounded by an inflammation on the skin. The most common symptoms are:

  • Headache, often severe
  • Fever
  • Joint and muscle pain

When visiting your doctor remember to mention your recent travels to a wilderness area.

Please discuss any concerns with your ranger or lodge manager as they will be happy to assist.

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