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'Prevention is the key' | Mid-South doctors, pest control experts warn about a rise in ticks in the area

The local trend follows concern this week from national experts about a rise in the national tick population due to shorter winters and warmer temperatures.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — "Ticks have been a pretty bad issue this year," Mid-South Pest & Termite General Manager Johnny DeLuke said.

DeLuke is a man on the move more often, responding to an abnormally high 20 to 30 tick related calls a week lately.

"If you keep the grass cut real low, that helps out a lot. Keep brush away from the house, firewood on the ground," DeLuke said.

Experts said high grass and wooded areas - including walking trails - are riper places for ticks to be and sometimes bite.

They point to a combination of warmer winters and the current summer temperatures for a spike in the tick population nationally and locally.

"Ticks can jump very far, so it's very important. Just like a lot of things in medicine, prevention is the key," Baptist Dr. Mark Castellaw said.

The Shelby County Health Department said if a tick latches on to you, get tweezers, pull out the tick slow and steady, and clean the bite.

Health experts said you then need to look out for any symptoms within 30 days, including rash, fever, fatigue, and muscle pain, and get medical attention if any of those symptoms emerge.

"The good news - it is easily treated with simple antibiotics and usually with no real consequences," Dr. Mark Castellaw said.

Dr. Castellaw said untreated, some tick bites can create major health problems.

"You think tick bites - no big deal. But they can be deadly because ticks carry Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain fever. All of these conditions can cause severe illness," Dr. Castellaw said.

That's why he reminded the public going outside during this peak tick season to wear lighter color clothing, pants, and long sleeves if possible, and not to forget to spray on extra protection.

"Make sure that you can use any type of commercial insect repellant, which will help," Dr. Castellaw said.

Doctors also reminded the public if you've worked or been outside in high grass or woods, to check for ticks before going inside, and check young children and pets if they've been outside in similar environments.

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