MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - 'Tis the season for ticks. They're expected to be bad this year because of the mild winter. Medical experts want people who spend time outdoors to be extra cautious.
We spoke with an infectious disease specialist with Baptist hospital who says there are two tick-borne diseases that are the most common in the Mid-South.
Some simple precautions could keep you from getting sick.
"Ticks are sitting there waiting to crawl off onto you. That's what they want to do,” says Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, a Baptist Hospital infectious disease specialist.
Ticks are most active April through September. Dr. Threlkeld says if you find a tick attached to your skin, don't smother it with oil or try to burn it off. Grab some fine tip tweezers and pull it out. If the head stays behind, it's ok. Wash the area with soap and water.
"A tick usually needs to be attached to you for some time before some of the secretions get into your skin beneath the mouth parts,” says Dr. Threlkeld.
Tick diseases are geographic in nature. Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlichia are the two most common tick-borne diseases in this region. Ticks also carry Lyme disease, but Dr. Threlkeld says Lyme is more commonly diagnosed in people who got it while traveling.
Common symptoms of tick-borne illnesses include fever, headache, and sometimes a rash. The diseases are rarely fatal and can be treated with antibiotics.
"Checking yourself and your pets in a couple of hours from returning from the woods is the key element. You'll wash off ticks that aren't attached and you'll find ticks that are attached in time to pull them off before they can transmit a disease,” says Dr. Threlkeld.
Dr. Threlkeld recommends using repellents that contain at least 20% DEET. And remember, ticks are attracted to people and pets.
CLICK HERE for information from the CDC about ticks.
CLICK HERE for more on Lyme Disease.
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