CDC apologizes for ruining muffins with tick awareness message

May 11, 2018

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made a social media splash recently with a tweet that went viral.

“Ticks can be the size of a poppy seed,” tweeted the agency, alongside two close-up photos of a poppy seed muffin. “Can you spot all five ticks in this photo?”

Suddenly, the muffin didn’t seem so appetizing. Close examiners of the picture found that, indeed, there were ticks camouflaged among the seeds. Both poppy seeds and ticks are small and dark in color.

The message grossed a lot of people out, but it allowed the CDC to get an important message out: We need to be aware of ticks to protect ourselves, our pets, and our farm animals.

Ticks can spread Lyme disease, which can especially impact humans, dogs, horses and sometimes cattle.

On its website, the CDC urges people to avoid direct contact with ticks. When enjoying a nature walk, it says, its best to walk in the center of the trail, away from trees and grass. A shower can make a full-body tick check easier on humans after a visit to a tick-infested area. Parents should be sure to check their children, especially in and around the ears and hair. (Duct tape can help with quick removal of ticks from clothes, as one scientist found during her fieldwork.)

Treating ourselves and our outdoor areas can protect our families and animals from tick bites. On your person, a repellent with 20% or more of DEET, picaridin or IR3535 can protect exposed skin, and products with 0.5% of the bug-killing agent permethrin can be used on clothing and gear such as boots, pants, socks and tents. A veterinarian can help find the best repellent treatment for animals at risk of tick bites, and they can be applied with high pressure sprayers or pour-on applicators. And outdoor environments can be made less tick-friendly with buffer zones of mulch, woodchips or gravel between the lawn and any woods.

To those whose image of poppy seed muffins had been ruined, the CDC apologized with a punny message.

“Sorry we ticked some of you off!” tweeted the CDC a few days later. “Don’t let a tick bite ruin your summer.”


Category: Food Safety, Animal Safety, Companion Animal, Equine, Healthcare, Public Health, Insect Control