479 NEWS

Tick Safety for Movie Crews

Close-up of a tick's mouth parts, photo by Richard Bartz

IATSE Local 479 Summer Safety Series: with the arrival of Summer people who work outdoors face a number of additional health safety dangers, from weather extremes to risk of disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides extensive information on tick avoidance, removal, disease symptoms and more.

What Is a Tick?

Ticks are small 8-legged arachnids that have been around since the time of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Unlike spiders, ticks feed on the blood of larger creatures like mammals, birds, and movie crews.

Since the southeast is home to the majority of disease-bearing ticks it’s important for movie crews to follow a few basic safety procedures to avoid disease or death from these tiny creatures.

Ticks & The Diseases They Carry

The effects of tick bites can range from chills and fever, to ulcerated skin and swollen glands, to palsy, heart palpitations, even memory issues. A recently discovered allergic reaction to bites from the Lone Star Tick has left many people unable to consume meat. Understanding the threat that ticks present has been shown to increase preventative measures by people at risk, so let’s review the types of ticks you may encounter while working in our jurisdiction.


American Dog Tick


Blacklegged Tick


Brown Dog Tick


Gulf Coast Tick


Lone Star Tick


Avoid Ticks

The best way to prevent tick bites is to avoid the places they inhabit, which are typically areas with heavy foliage or high grasses. If you must work in these environments try to stay to the center of trails and away from wooded and brushy areas with high grass and/or leaf litter. Be aware that ticks may also be transmitted to you via gear, other people, and pets that have been exposed to these environments.


Tick Check!

There are some simple techniques you should practice when returning home from exterior sets likely to contain ticks. Young ticks may be small, so be diligent in each of these procedures.

Clothes – look through your clothes for ticks then tumble dry on high heat for at least 10 minutes to kill ticks. Use hot water when washing potentially compromised clothing, as cold or medium heat will not kill ticks.

Shower – taking a shower within 2 hours of returning from outdoors has been shown to reduce the risk of Lyme disease, as unattached ticks may be washed off.

Visual Check – use a hand mirror to inspect your entire body, from head to toe, paying special attention to areas where ticks could hide between folds of skin, such as under your arms, inside your naval, behind your knees, and around your groin.


Tick Repellant

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a list of repellants useful in protecting people against tick bites. Be sure to consult the cautions and warnings for use of these products on children.

You can purchase a product called Permethrin to treat clothes and shoes to discourage ticks from attaching themselves to you in the first place. Follow the directions for proper application and re-application.


Tick Removal

How to remove a tick using tweezers

If you discover a tick attached to your skin don’t panic. Removal is fast and painless. The most important step is to remove the tick as soon as possible. Use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick’s body as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Use firm pressure to lift straight up without twisting. If the mouth parts break off below the skin’s surface don’t attempt to remove them. Instead, clean the area and allow the skin to heal.

Home remedies like covering the tick in petroleum jelly or holding a glowing match next to the tick are not recommended, as they have been shown to be ineffective and delay the removal of the tick from your body.

Monitor yourself for the next few weeks to see if you experience any of the symptoms affiliated with tick-bourne illnesses. If you do, contact your doctor and inform them about the date of the tick bite and the symptoms you’re experiencing.




Tickbourne Diseases of the United States; an online reference for healthcare providers

Provided by: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



More people developing red meat allergy from tick bites

Provided by: CBS News




Provided by: Wikipedia