Warm winter means more tick-related diseases | Health
Here's some information that's sure to get you scratching:
According to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), the number of tick-related illnesses is on the rise.
In 2011, there were 650 cases of tick-related illnesses reported. That's triple the number of cases reported in 2010. And this year is on track to be even worse, according to the ADH.
The ADH attributes the increase to the recent mild winters. Also, because they haven't been dormant, the ticks are likely to be hungry earlier in the year.
If not treated properly, Dr. Dirk Haselow, director of Communicable Diseases and Immunizations at ADH, says tick-related illnesses "can be deadly."
According to a release from the ADH, Dr. Haselow says:
“It is very important that people realize the seriousness of the infections that some ticks can carry, and to see their doctor if ill. Thankfully, we can prevent many of these infections if we become aware of the risks and take some simple precautions.”
Four tick-related illnesses are common in Arkansas: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, spread by the American dog tick; Anaplasmosis, spread by the Blacklegged tick; Ehrlichiosis, spread by the Lone Star tick; and Tularemia, spread by many types of ticks and deer fly bites, as well as by rabbits and rodents.
Lyme disease is not native to Arkansas.
Symptoms can include:
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal pain
To stay tick-free, the ADH offers these tips:
- Ticks are most active in spring–summer (April–September)
- Avoid walking in woody or bushy areas, or in tall grass, walk in the center of trails to avoid touching the braches and leaves.
- Ticks will wait on the ends of leaves for a host to come by and brush where they are standing.
- Use products with no more than 30% DEET in them for your skin when you are in areas that could have ticks and use permithrin on clothing and gear. Make sure to follow all directions on the bottle.
- Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants. Tuck the pant legs into your socks or boots.
- Wear light color clothing, this will allow you to see ticks easier if one is on your clothing.
- Check your entire body for ticks, especially in the hair and at the hairline, in the ears, underarms, behind the knees, and in the groin.
- Check pets and gear.
- Shower or bathe soon after you come inside.
- Tumble dry clothes on high heat for an hour to kill any ticks that may be on your clothes.
To remove a tick from your skin, the ADH suggests you use a pair of clean fine-tipped tweezers, grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick upwards at a steady pace. This prevents the mouth parts from breaking off and staying in your skin. If the mouth parts do break off, clean the tweezers and attempt to remove the mouth parts. If you cannot remove the parts just leave them in. Clean the bite area and your hands with soap and water.
Flickr photo provided by John Tann