Ticks — Pull them out, or let them fall off, Yahoo Answers

Ticks — Pull them out, or let them fall off?

I just got a foster dog yesterday. He is covered in ticks.. he was treated for them yesterday, and I asked the lady if they will just fall off, and she said yes.. I was wondering if this is proper? I just feel bad for him.

Thanks everyone for your answers! Most of them had fallen off from the Frontline.. but there were a few stubborn ones, so I tweezed them out carefully. Hopefully he’ll feel more comfortable now.

18 Answers

It’s better to get the ticks off him, the longer they are on the more chance of them passing a disease on to him.

As he has been treated for them they will have started to die, so it will be easy to remove them.

Get a pair of tweezers and grab the tick as close to your dogs body as possible, then pull the tick straight out, don’t twist as this can snap the head off. Don’t worry if the head does stay in your dog, his body will eject the head by itself. You can apply some antiseptic ointment to the area, it will swell and go red, but will settle down in a few days. Repeat this procedure with the other ticks.

Once you have got the tick off your dog, you should either burn them or crush them as they can get back on your dog.

Some people think you should hold a lit match to the tick to make it lose its grip, never do this, it just makes them panic and then regurgitate their stomach contents into your dogs blood stream and so passes on diseases.

I’m sure he will feel a lot more comfortable once the ticks have gone.

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do ticks die after drinking blood?

what i mean is. i saw a tick on my dogs neck and it was pretty large. and wen i came home later looking for it, it was gone! Did it fall off and die or what?

im asking this because i heard that ticks drink blood until they burst.

11 Answers

Ticks don’t burst. They may feed on a host for a while and then drop off of the animal depending on the stage of development or reproduction that they are in. Most immature Ticks drop to the ground after feeding in order to shed their skin and become an eight legged nymph. Any that find a long time host will molt while on the animal. Adult ticks may need several days of feeding before they are able to reproduce. Male hard ticks usually die soon after mating, and females die soon after laying their eggs. Adult soft ticks are generally longer-lived, and egg-laying is a periodic activity of the female. Most ticks spend the bulk of their life on or near the ground, waiting for a suitable host animal. Since they cannot run, hop, fly or move quickly, ticks must climb onto an appropriate object such as tall grass or weeds or up onto fences and siding of buildings. It is from these advantage points that they wait for a suitable host to pass by. When they detect vibrations and chemical cues such as host odors or exhaled carbon dioxide, ticks will fall from their perch or stretch out (holding on to their perch with only 2 or 4 of their rear legs) and hope to snag or attach onto a passing host (such as a mammal with a fur coat or pants and socks worn by humans.) Most ticks will feed on blood from a wide variety of animals, with only a few tick species feeding on but one kind of host. In some tick species the immature stages will feed on different hosts than the adults do. Reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds are all vertebrates which ticks may feed on. Your dog probably had the common Brown Dog Tick on it. The females will become engorged when feeding and expand from 1/8 of an inch to 1/2 inch long. They will be 1/4 of an inch wide. The males don’t get larger when feeding. The Tick that dropped off your dog either did so to molt or because it was a female that already layed eggs. Make sure to check your dog for more Ticks. Give it a Tick bath to remove possible other Ticks and eggs.

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Female ticks need the extra nutrition from blood to produce eggs. They fall upon a victim, drink their fill and then drop off to go reproduce.

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How Ticks Work

In many families, a thorough search for ticks is part of any hike, camping trip or other journey into the woods. For people who live in rural areas, particularly those who work outdoors, looking for ticks is often a part of daily life. It’s easy to think of these tiny arachnids as something to watch out for in relatively wild terrain, but ticks don’t confine themselves to the wilderness. They’re adaptive and resilient, and you can find them in distinctly urban areas, like the parks of New York City.

The typical response to finding a tick is often disgust. It’s partly because ticks are parasites — they feed on their hosts’ blood. Although people see them most often on themselves and their pets, ticks also attack wild animals, farm animals, birds and reptiles. On top of that, some ticks, particularly females, swell dramatically when they ingest a lot of blood. An engorged tick, or one that’s full of blood, can have a bizarre, even grotesque appearance.

In addition to their feeding behavior and appearance, ticks are disease vectors. They can carry illnesses from one animal to another. In fact, ticks are the primary disease vector in domestic animals. In terms of human illness, only one parasite spreads more illness — the mosquito. Ticks can spread a wide variety of disease-causing organisms, including bacteria, viruses and protozoa.

Ticks themselves are just as diverse as the diseases they carry. They live all over the world, and there are as many as 850 total species, divided roughly into two categories — hard and soft. A hard tick has a shield-like plate called a scutum that covers part of its back. If you look at a hard tick from top down, you can also see its capitulum, which looks like a head. Soft ticks, on the other hand, don’t have a scutum, and the only parts of it you can see when you look at it from above are its back and legs.

Regardless of whether they’re hard or soft, all species of ticks have a few things in common. Everything about them, from their swollen appearance to their ability to spread disease, comes from their need for blood. In this article, we’ll explore how ticks retrieve blood from their human hosts, as well as how they live, travel and reproduce.

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10 Ways To Get Ticks Off Your Dog

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Ticks. Tiny, eight-legged parasites that crawl around looking for potential hosts, and when they find them, feed on their blood by burrowing their mouthparts into the host’s skin, where they can remain attached for days. Oh, and did we mention that, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, they can also transmit 14 different types of diseases to their hosts? What’s not to love?

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Turns out, plenty. Besides their creepy-crawly gross-out factor, ticks can pose real problems for both dogs and humans. Since ticks attach firmly and feed slowly, they can go unnoticed for a long time, giving them plenty of time to transmit disease to their host. These tough little freeloaders can also take in a tremendous amount of blood (some are able to grow up to 4 times their original size while feeding), so if a large number of them infest a small dog, they can actually cause the dog to become weak and anemic from blood loss.

So how can we keep our dogs (and ourselves) tick-free?

Tick Facts

As with any battle against parasites, the old adage “Know thine enemy” serves us well. So first, a few facts about ticks:

  • Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not fall from trees onto their hosts. Instead, they wait patiently on vegetation (usually in wooded areas or tall grass), until they detect an approaching host by sensing carbon dioxide, warmth, and movement. Then they reach up with their front legs and start waving them around (called “questing”), hoping to snag a ride. If they’re lucky, they’re able to climb onto their host, where they crawl upwards until they find a location to feed.
  • Spring and summer are prime seasons for ticks, but in some areas they can survive well into the fall and winter months. Ticks can be active any time the ground temperature is above 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • It takes 24 to 48 hours for an attached tick to transmit a disease or infection to its host, so the more quickly you remove a tick, the better. Although not all ticks carry disease, many do, and they can have serious consequences if you or your dog become infected.
  • Tick saliva is a veritable “magic potion”. It not only has an anesthetic effect (allowing the tick to bite without its host noticing), but it also contains a cement-like material to keep the tick stuck to the skin, plus an anticoagulant to keep blood from clotting so the tick can continue to feed for days.

The 4 Most Common Ticks Likely To Infest Your Dog

Although there are around 15 species of ticks in North America, most of them infest birds and other wildlife. The 4 most common ticks likely to be encountered by your dog are these:

1. American Dog Tick

These are chestnut brown with white spots or streaks on their backs. When filled with blood, the females look elongated and gray in color. They’re found throughout the United States, but are most common in coastal, warm, and humid regions, and most active during the Spring months. These ticks are mostly found outdoors, and rarely infest homes or buildings. They attack both dogs and humans.

2. Lone Star Tick

These are varying shades of brown or tan. Males have scattered white spots on their backs, while females have one single white spot. They’re typically found along the east coast, and in the southern and midwestern states. They prefer wooded areas or thick underbrush, near creeks and rivers where animals like to lay down and rest.

3. Deer Tick (Black-legged Tick)

Deer ticks, also known as Black-legged ticks, have gained notoriety for their likelihood of transmitting Lyme disease, as well as the parasite Babesia, to their hosts. Deer ticks are very small (only about half the size of other ticks), and reddish-brown in color, and are found in wooded areas along the east coast, southern, and upper midwestern states. The Western Black-legged tick is found west of the Rocky Mountains, primarily in California, Washington, and Oregon.

4. Brown Dog Tick

These ticks are found throughout the United States, and feed mostly on dogs (they rarely bite humans). Unlike other ticks, Brown Dog ticks prefer to live indoors, earning them the nickname “kennel ticks.” They’re found mostly in homes or kennels, where they hide in cracks, under appliances, rugs, and furniture, and behind curtains and walls. They usually attach themselves to the face, ears, or between the toes of a dog to feed, and once the females drop off, they crawl into a warm, dark place to lay their eggs – up to 3,000 at one time.

So now that your skin is probably crawling, here’s how you can get these ticks off your dog – and keep them off!

10 Ways To Get Ticks Off Your Dog

There are several methods and products available to keep your dog tick-free. (Keep in mind that some of the products mentioned below contain chemicals formulated to repel or kill ticks, so care should be taken to use them exactly as they’re intended).

Spot-on Treatments

Spot-on medications consist of chemicals that are formulated to both ward off and kill ticks and fleas. This liquid comes in single-dose tubes that you apply directly to your dog’s skin between the shoulder blades. The oil in the liquid is designed to slowly spread out over the skin, where it can keep ticks away (and kill any ticks that are already attached) for up to a month.

Examples of spot-on medications for ticks include K9 Advantix ® , Frontline ® Plus, and Revolution ® . These medications are very effective, but great care should be taken as to how they’re used. Dosage is based on your dog’s weight, so always make sure you’re using the product specifically formulated for your dog, and never use a tick product formulated for dogs on your cat! Check with your veterinarian for recommendations on the safest spot-on treatment to use for your dog.

Oral Medications

Oral medications to kill ticks and fleas come in tablet form, and are given once a month. The tablets are easy to administer, and you don’t have to be careful about cats or children coming into contact with your dog immediately after treatment like you would with spot-on medications.

These oral medications are also specifically formulated according to your dog’s weight. Products include Bravecto ® and NexGard ® , both of which require a prescription from your veterinarian. As with spot-on treatments, ask your veterinarian which one he or she recommends as best for your dog.

Tick Sprays

Tick sprays are simply sprayed directly onto your dog’s coat. They are most effective when used before you spend time outdoors, as they work to repel ticks and keep them from attaching. However, they can also kill any ticks that manage to climb aboard your dog.

Both chemical and natural tick sprays are available. Be very careful not to use them around your dog’s face and eyes, and keep them away from cats or other pets in your household.

Tick Shampoos

These shampoos contain medicated ingredients that kill ticks on contact. They need to be used frequently (about once every 2 weeks during tick season), since they don’t offer the residual protection of other tick products. As with any tick product, ask your veterinarian for recommendations on the safest brands to use.

Tick Dips

Dips are very concentrated chemicals designed to be diluted with water and poured or sponged onto your dog after bathing with a regular shampoo. Tick dips kill existing ticks on contact, and since they don’t get rinsed off, they also provide residual protection afterwards.

Dips are very strong, and most have a lingering chemical odor. They can’t be used on dogs younger than 4 months old, or on dogs who are pregnant or nursing. Because dips can be dangerous if used incorrectly, for maximum safety I recommend that if you decide to have your dog dipped for ticks, if at all possible get it done by your veterinary clinic. Since these are strong chemicals, the potential for toxicity is greater than other methods on this list.

House and Lawn Treatments

Household and yard sprays and granules to keep ticks away are available from your veterinarian, local garden center, and some pet stores. Many exterminating services also offer treatments for ticks. Keep in mind that some of these chemical products can be harmful to children and other animals, so they should be kept out of treated areas for the recommended period of time.

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Tick Collars

Tick collars are usually considered an additional preventive, as most tend to keep ticks away from your dog’s head and neck area, but don’t provide as much full-body protection as spot-ons, oral medications, or sprays. These collars need to be in contact with your dog’s skin in order to be effective, so dogs with heavy coats or lots of undercoat may not benefit as much as dogs with lighter coats. Tick collars should not be used on dogs younger than 3 months of age. As with any product, watch your dog for any signs of skin sensitivity or allergic reaction.

Creating a Tick-Free Zone In Your Yard

You can reduce the likelihood of your dog coming into contact with ticks by making sure that your yard is not tick-friendly. Since ticks thrive in places with long grass, debris, and humidity, make your yard less hospitable to them by keeping your lawn mowed short and bushes trimmed. Also remove any leaf litter or debris that may be keeping the ground underneath it moist, which is where ticks like to breed.

Safety-Checking Your Dog

After spending time outside with your dog in tick season, always check him over carefully for ticks, paying particular attention to armpits, inside the ears, between the toes, and around his neck and face. It can take ticks awhile to find the perfect spot on your dog to attach themselves and feed, so the sooner you find and remove the ticks (while they are still crawling on the fur and not attached), the better.

This method may be old-school, but if done consistently, it’s still effective – especially for dog parents who are hesitant to use chemical treatments. However, if your dog is large, has dark or heavy fur, or you live in an area where ticks are plentiful, it can be quite easy to miss a very small tick. You’ll need to weigh the possibility of overlooking something against any concerns about using a treatment or medication on your dog. As always, don’t hesitate to discuss all concerns with your veterinarian.

Manual Removal

If you do find a tick attached to your dog, don’t panic. The important thing to remember is that the old wives’ tales about tick removal (burning them with a match head, suffocating them with nail polish or petroleum jelly, etc.) DON’T WORK and can actually be dangerous to your dog. These techniques can cause the tick to salivate more, increasing the chances of transmitting disease. Instead, you can manually remove the tick yourself by following the steps below.

How To Safely Remove A Tick From Your Dog

Step 1: Assemble your tools. You will need:

  • A clean pair of tweezers OR commercial tick remover kit (which consists of a small forked tool and a magnifier)
  • Latex gloves
  • A small disposable, sealable container filled with alcohol
  • Antiseptic (such as hydrogen peroxide, betadine, or chlorhexidine)
  • A helper (if possible) to keep your dog still while you’re removing the tick

Step 2: Put on gloves!

Never attempt to handle a tick with your bare hands. The diseases that ticks carry can enter your body through microscopic cuts or breaks in the skin, or through mucous membranes (when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth).

Step 3: Remove the tick.

With a partner holding your dog steady, part the fur around where you see the tick. Take your tweezers (or tick removal tool) and grasp the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible, where the head of the tick attaches to its neck.

Applying gentle, steady pressure, pull the tick out at the same angle that it went in, parallel to your dog’s skin. Do not pull it straight up, twist it, or yank it out too quickly. This can cause the tick’s head to break off and remain in your dog’s skin. Also, don’t squeeze the tick’s body while you’re pulling it out, as this can cause the tick to regurgitate saliva and gut contents containing infectious organisms directly into your dog’s skin.

Continue applying steady pressure until the tick releases its grip. Be patient – in some cases it can take up to a minute for the tick to let go.

Step 4: Drop the tick into the alcohol-filled jar and seal it.

This serves two purposes: 1) The alcohol will kill the tick (simply flushing it down the toilet, throwing it in the trash, or stepping on it will not kill it), and 2) It will preserve the tick so that if your dog becomes sick, your veterinarian can identify or test the tick to determine if it was carrying any diseases. If possible, mark the container with the date you removed the tick.

Step 5: Check to see if the head of the tick was left in the skin.

If the head of the tick breaks off and remains in your dog’s skin, don’t worry. Sometimes this still happens, despite doing everything right. Simply disinfect the area with an antiseptic and just leave it alone – don’t try to dig the head out yourself. Eventually your dog’s body should expel it. However, continue to monitor the area and watch for any redness or swelling, which could indicate an infection. If that happens, call your veterinarian.

Step 6: Disinfect!

Immediately clean the area on your dog’s skin with antiseptic. Then remove your gloves and wash your own hands well with soap and water. Sterilize the tweezers or tick removal tool with alcohol. Then give your dog a treat for being so good!

Step 7: Keep watch.

Monitor the area where the tick was attached for the next several weeks. Watch for any signs of infection or rash around the bite. Most tick wounds heal within a few days, so if the area starts looking suspicious, bring your dog (and your tick-in-a-jar) to your veterinarian to have it checked out.

Also watch for any symptoms of tick-borne diseases, which include lameness, fever, swollen joints or lymph nodes, stiffness, fatigue, or loss of appetite.

Winning The War Against Ticks

Talk with your veterinarian about which tick-control product is the best one for your dog. Whichever method you choose, be sure to stay on schedule and be consistent about using it. While walking with your dog, stay in the center of the trail and avoid brushing up against tall grass or vegetation. When you stop to rest, try to sit on rocks or fallen logs, and not in the grass. And always check your dog for ticks when you return home (preferably before you go inside!)

Ticks, even more so than cockroaches and fleas, are the ultimate survivors, withstanding extreme heat and cold, lack of food (ticks can live up to 3 years without feeding), even being crushed flat! Their lifecycle enables them to remain a year-round threat to both us and our dogs, so year-round protection and vigilance is needed to keep them in check.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and if you click on them and purchase a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Goodpetparent.com only shares products that we strongly believe in and feel would be beneficial for our readers.

What do you use to protect your dog against ticks? Do you have any tick stories to share? Please tell us about them in the comments below!

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TICKS! Some common questions answered

Susan O’Bell, DVM, MPH, DACVIM (Internal Medicine)
General Medicine, Angell Animal Medical Center
angell.org/generalmedicine
[email protected]
617-522-7282

No matter the weather here in New England, most of us enjoy side-by-side outings with our canine companions. Ticks and other external parasites are a pesky, year-round problem that warrant some consideration before heading outdoors. My clients have to hear my stories over and over of the tick I pulled off my dog’s nose during a snowy January evening, or the tick attached to my mother on a recent balmy December afternoon! Ticks are a way of life around here, but hopefully by raising tick prevention awareness we can combat the epidemic of tick borne diseases in both humans and dogs alike. Please review these questions and answers regarding tick exposure, and as always, please reach out to your veterinarian with any additional questions.

See also:  How a Tick Bite Can Give You a Red Meat Allergy - Consumer Reports

Which ticks are the biggest threat to humans and dogs in our area?

Deer ticks are by far the biggest concern, both because of the diseases they may carry, but also because of their small size, making it more likely for them to go unnoticed and able to attach and transmit diseases. Unfortunately Lone Star ticks are also making an aggressive move into New England, and at the very least have known pockets in Maine and parts of Cape Cod, and likely elsewhere in Massachusetts and parts of New England. These ticks are known for the ability to seek out hosts in a more aggressive fashion, their nastier bites, and their potential transmission of several potentially harmful diseases other than Lyme. We also see American dog ticks with great frequency.

Which diseases are transmitted by deer ticks (“black legged ticks”)?

Lyme disease is by far the most well-known disease transmitted by deer ticks. Perhaps 50-70% of deer ticks in the area carry Lyme disease causing bacteria, so the odds are not in our favor if a tick is able to attach and feed on a human (or dog) for long enough. Deer ticks also have the potential to transmit Anasplasmosis, Powassan virus (rare but getting some recent media attention), babesiosis, and others. Dog ticks are capable of transmitting Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and tularemia, both rarer but potentially very serious tick borne illness affecting humans and dogs.

What is the best way for PEOPLE to avoid tick bites?

  • Stick to well cleared paths, and especially avoid the shrubby, mid height grasses and other plants along borders of paths and between landscapes.
  • Wear Permethrin-treated clothing, as it also appears to be a safe and effective way to kill ticks.
  • Perform frequent tick checks. Ticks crawl for some time before attaching so there is a window of time when they can be removed before they could transmit disease. Have a friend help you if possible, or use two mirrors, as they often head “North” and could be along your back, back of your neck, behind your ears, and along your hairline. Check for new “freckles.” Until you have seen a deer tick nymph (this is the smallest form of the ticks, more prevalent in spring/early summer), it is hard to appreciate just how tiny they are.
  • Place clothing in a hot dryer for 30 minutes to kill any ticks that may remain on clothing.
  • Take a shower before bed.
  • Wear light/white colored long sleeves, long pants, and tall socks to help spot ticks more easily.

What is the best way for DOGS to avoid tick bites?

  • Do your best to keep dogs in well cleared areas as well.
  • Be in the habit of using one or more veterinarian approved/recommended tick prevention option. There are MANY options and applications (topical spot-on products, collars, newer oral chewable tablets). Have a discussion with your veterinarian and their support staff to help determine your dog’s risk of tick exposure and to factor any concurrent health issues or allergies. Consider how often your pet swims or gets bathed as although many products are water resistant, they may lose effectiveness with repeated water exposure. Your veterinarian can help you select the safest and most effective products and determine the best dosing interval for products. I recommend using these products year round. Ticks will be out to feed (looking for a warm blooded animal!) on any day that is above freezing.
  • Also try to perform tick checks on dogs as they similarly will often be on the outmost fur before settling in on the skin to feed. They also climb to “higher,” warmer spots and I often find ticks around the head, neck, backs of ears, and groins or armpit regions of dogs. Using a “furminator” type brush may help facilitate tick removal before they have attached.

What is the best way to remove a tick?

The best way is to remove it AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE – ideally before it has attached or as soon after it has attached as possible. In general you want to grasp the tick as close to the site of attachment with tweezers and pull straight back. If the tick has been attached for any period of time, and if you are not familiar with tick removal, you likely will need to use more force/steady pressure than you might have guessed.

How can I tell what kind of tick I have found?

You may be able to use an internet image search to help identify a tick, or you can save the tick and show it to your physician or veterinarian. Engorged ticks (ticks that are enlarged due to being attached and having a blood meal) are often difficult to identify.

Is there a way to know if the tick I found was carrying any potentially harmful diseases?

If a tick was not attached there is no risk of disease transmission (unlike a mosquito bite which could feed and does not subsequently remain attached). Make a note of the day you found an attached tick as this information could be useful to your veterinarian or physician should illness ensue. Tick identification services are available, however please consider the following guidelines outlined by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health before using these services:

  • Tests performed on the ticks are not perfect and they do not test for all infections ticks may be carrying. Therefore, even with a negative result, people should still monitor themselves for the appearance of rash, fever or other unusual symptoms and immediately seek the advice of a health care provider should any symptoms occur.
  • If someone has been infected by a tick bite, symptoms may begin to occur even before the results of tick testing are available. People should not wait for tick testing results before seeking medical advice should any symptoms develop.
  • A positive test on a tick is not an automatic indication that treatment is needed. A positive test indicates that the tick was infected, but not that the tick was successful in spreading the infection to the person bitten. The longer a tick is attached to you, the greater the chance that it will spread infection. Discuss any positive test results with your health care provider.

What symptoms of illness should I be looking for if I removed an attached tick (human exposure)?

Whenever someone removes an attached tick from his/her body, he/she should watch for the appearance of any type of rash, and/or fever or flu-like symptoms (muscle aches, lethargy). Immediately seek the advice of a health care provider should any symptoms occur, especially if the tick was attached for more than 24 hours.

What symptoms of illness should I be looking for if I removed an attached tick from my dog?

Some of the same diseases that affect humans can affect dogs, but sometimes the course of illness is quite different. For example, we would not expect to see a rash in dogs whereas a characteristic “target” or “bullseye” lesion develops in up to 75% of humans with Lyme disease. Nasty tick bites however may resemble this type of rash in dogs. The onset of Lyme disease in infected dogs is often several weeks after exposure to tick bites compared to a much shorter incubation period in humans (a few days). Any new joint pain (which may show up as reluctance to stand up or lie down, crying painfully, walking gingerly, or limping, especially on more than one limb, or on a different limb from one day to the next), lethargy, and lack of appetite are some common symptoms that may signify a problem and warrant a phone call and/or visit to your veterinarian. Fortunately most tick borne illnesses respond quickly and completely to a course of antibiotics, so prompt veterinary attention is always in your pet’s best interest.

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