The CDC posted a disturbing image of ticks on top of a poppyseed muffin, and people are freaked out

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  • Ticks are tiny, hard to kill, and carry devastating diseases.
  • Some ticks can carry Lyme disease and are often no bigger than poppy seed.
  • To get people to understand that, the CDC recently tweeted a terrifying image of a poppyseed muffin covered in ticks.
  • If the goal was to scare readers, it worked.

Ticks can carry devastating and potentially life-threatening illnesses. They’re also tiny and hard to kill.

Cases of diseases carried by the blood-sucking pests have skyrocketed in recent years, according to a recent report by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In order to make people aware of just how hard it can be to spot the tiny creatures – especially the speck-sized blacklegged or deer ticks that carry Lyme disease – the CDC recently sent out a tweet challenging viewers to see if they could pick out the five ticks on top of a poppy seed muffin.

In terms of raising awareness, it worked.

But readers weren’t happy, responding with various versions of “What the hell” and jokingly making promises to listen to the warning and avoid poppyseed muffins.

Avoiding ticks

The CDC’s warning does come at the right time. As the weather is getting warmer in the US and people are spending more time outside, they expose themselves to ticks, which are most active when it’s warm out (hotter summers that last longer are one of the reasons why many experts say climate change could make tick-borne diseases even bigger problems).

That’s true for the deer ticks that carry Lyme disease and other illnesses, it’s true for the Lone Star ticks that spread an allergy to red meat and mammal products, and it’s true for other pathogen-carrying ticks.

To avoid ticks, the CDC recommends first knowing where you’re most likely to pick them up. This includes anywhere with tall grass and wooded and brushy areas.

To repel ticks, the CDC suggests using insect repellent that contains at least 20% DEET, picaridin, or IR3535. Permethrin repellent can be used to treat clothing and ward off ticks.

If you’ve been in an outdoorsy spot where there might be ticks, especially in an area known to have Lyme disease, (the Northeast and Upper Midwest of the US are particularly hard-hit), do a tick check after you’ve been outside. Check pets and children, taking a look at their hair and any spots that might be hidden, and take a bath or shower after you get inside.

Remember that even if you had a poppyseed bagel for breakfast, you should take a second look at that little speck on your shirt.

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