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Ticks survive washing!

>From the USDA's Agricultural Research Service:

Before venturing into tick-infested territory, you used a topical repellant on
exposed skin and outer clothing. When you returned, you did a body check and
threw your clothes in the wash. But clean clothes may not be tick-free

When he found a live lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) on the agitator of
his washing machine, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) entomologist John
Carroll decided to find out how tough ticks are. So he bagged up nymphs from
two species--the lone star tick and the deer tick, (Ixodes scapularis), the
creature that transmits Lyme disease--and put them in the washing machine.

Carroll used a combination of water temperature settings and detergent types
to wash the ticks. The majority of lone star ticks survived all the
water-detergent combinations with no obvious side effects. Most of the deer
ticks lived through the cold and warm water settings as well. But when one
type of detergent was used with a hot water setting, only 25 percent of the
deer ticks survived.

When it came time to dry, all the ticks of both species died after an hour of
tumbling around at high heat. But when the dryer was set to "no heat," about
one-third of the deer ticks and more than half of the lone star ticks

Carroll placed the ticks in mesh bags, which kept them from draining away
during the rinse cycle and perhaps increased their odds for survival. However,
ticks might also survive a sudsy interlude by sheltering in the folds and
crevices of a typical load of laundry. Some tick species have been observed to
survive hours of submersion in fresh water.

Both adult ticks and nymphs can transmit disease. Carroll's research
reinforces recommendations by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention to wash and dry clothes at high temperatures after spending time in
areas known to harbor ticks.

Carroll conducts research at the ARS Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory,
Beltsville, Md.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.


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