Ticks can carry disease and transmit the disease organisms while feeding. Ticks feed by inserting their mouthparts into the skin of their host and slowly suck the blood. Tickborne diseases found in our area include: Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, Lyme Disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Ticks are commonly found in shady areas, moist ground litter, tall grass, brush and low tree branches, and along trails in wooded areas.
While most tick bites do not result in disease, it is important to recognize and watch for early signs of tickborne diseases. Signs and symptoms do vary depending on the disease:
Ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis: fever, headache, chills, fatigue and muscle pain. Some people also experience nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Symptoms normally appear 1-2 weeks after the bite of an infected tick.
Lyme Disease: generally starts as a large circular reddish rash, which expands around or near the site of the tick bite. Other symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, stiff neck, muscle and/or joint pain may be present for several week. Symptoms usually begin within a month of exposure.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: sudden onset of moderate to high fever, severe headache, fatigue, deep muscle pain, chills and rash. The rash begins on the legs or arms, may include the soles of the feet or palms of the hands, and may spread rapidly to the trunk or the rest of the body. Symptoms usually appear within 2 weeks of the bite of infected tick.
Limiting exposure to ticks is the best way to prevent tickborne diseases. When spending time outdoors in places where contact with ticks may occur, take the following precautions:
- Wear light-colored clothing so that crawling ticks can easily be seen.
- Wear pants and long sleeves to reduce skin exposure to ticks.
- Tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants to prevent ticks from crawling up pants legs.
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET to exposed skin, and permethrin to clothing.
- After spending time outdoors, thoroughly inspect your body for crawling or attached ticks. Pay close attention to the head and scalp, as ticks may be hidden in hair.