Ticks Waking Up To Spread Disease

By: Leon County Health Department Release
By: Leon County Health Department Release

Tallahassee— April 16, 2012 -

Ticks love our springs and summers and return to the business of spreading diseases during our beautiful weather. Because it is the start of the active seasons for disease-carrying ticks in Florida, we need to take precautions to protect ourselves and our pets. Florida ticks carry diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlichiosis. It can take a month or more to show symptoms of one of these diseases, so be alert if you are exposed to a tick.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), typical symptoms include fever, chills, aches, pains and rashes. Tickborne diseases can result in mild symptoms treatable at home or severe infections requiring hospitalization. Although easily treated with antibiotics, these diseases can be difficult for physicians to diagnose. However, early recognition and treatment of the infection decreases the risk of serious complications. So see your doctor immediately if you have been bitten by a tick and experience any of the symptoms described here.

“Ticks are more active during the spring and summer,” said Homer J. Rice, RS, MPH, PhD, Administrator of the Leon County Health Department. “When we are out enjoying nature in the warm weather, we are more likely to be exposed to feeding ticks. Though rare, cases of tick-borne disease have been detected in Florida through our surveillance systems, so please take the precautions recommended below now.”

Tick-borne Disease Precautions
--Avoidance is the best way to keep from getting ill--

1. Apply repellent to discourage ticks from biting. EPA registered repellants containing 20% DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) can provide some protection. Repellents with permethrin can be used on clothing, shoes, tents and gear (but not on skin).
o Read label directions carefully when applying repellent.
o Some repellents are not suitable for children. DEET is not recommended for use on children younger than 2 months old.
2. Wear white or light-colored clothing to cover your skin as much as possible, so you can see any ticks crawling on your clothes. Tuck your pant legs into your socks so that ticks cannot crawl up the inside of your pants.
3. Walk in the center of a trail or path to avoid touching tall grasses and other plants that are tick hang-outs.

4. Check your body and your child’s body for ticks after spending time outside (for example, in your backyard, a park, the woods) where ticks are likely to be. Look carefully at your feet and legs, as some ticks are small enough to crawl into shoes and through socks. It takes a number of hours after a bite for a tick to be able to transmit disease, so checking carefully for and removing ticks quickly can prevent illness.
5. Shower within two hours of coming indoors to reduce risk of tick bites.
6. Check your pets for ticks. Talk to your veterinarian about products that keep ticks off your pets. Follow package directions.
7. Landscape your yard to reduce the number of ticks present. To see how you can control ticks in your yard visit http://www.cdc.gov.

Removing Ticks:
If you find a tick on you or your pet, remove it right away with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers:
• Grasp the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible.
• Pull upward with a steady, even motion without squeezing or crushing the tick.
• After removing and disposing of the tick, clean the bite site and wash hands well with soap and hot water.
• Avoid folklore remedies such as "painting" the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible--not waiting for it to detach.

Most tick bites do not result in illness, so treatment is not recommended unless a person becomes ill. If you do develop an illness with a fever or rash within one month of being bitten by a tick or after spending time in tick habitat, seek medical care right away and tell your health care provider you may have been exposed to ticks. Delays in treatment can result in more serious illness.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by LegalWatcher Location: TLH on Apr 17, 2012 at 11:54 AM
    Lyme Disease was detected in our are last year. I had my dogs vaccinated against it. There is no current human vaccine.
  • by Janet on Apr 17, 2012 at 07:50 AM
    Echo comments below. My husband told dr that he had gotten but by a tick. Had flu like symptoms, high temps but treated him for shingles?? Symptoms got so much worse he finally got admitted to hosp. and put on strong antibiotics. It was later determined he had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (tick from St. George Island). It had lasting effects, tsi's, etc.
  • by Lyme on Apr 17, 2012 at 04:54 AM
    But, no ticks have been identified in Florida carrying it Lyme Disease. Several "alternative therapy" doctors have gotten quite rich on providing care to folks they diagnosed with Lyme Disease.
  • by Tom Location: TallahasseeGoo on Apr 16, 2012 at 07:40 PM
    Good article. Just remember if you need to see a doctor a month so out from being bit by a tick..... delayed symptoms! You better remember having bit. Tick bites require very specific antibiotics. Being treated with the wrong antibotic can prolong your illness and even you could die.
    • reply
      by CC on Apr 16, 2012 at 09:15 PM in reply to Tom
      You are correct about the antibiotics. However the article is a little misleading. My husband was bitten with the bulls eye rash about four years ago. He finally found a doctor that treats specifically for lyme. He has been going through treatment the last several months. Lyme causes more than flu like symptoms. It can effect your organs including your brain, heart and even cause paralasis. You can also get secondary infections from the tick as well, one of these being babesia, which is like malaria, my husband has this also. Lyme is no joke and people should check out Lyme.Org for the true health issues this disease can cause. If left untreated, lyme does kill. After having this for the last several years my husband will be going through treatment for the next couple of years to get rid of it. Because the test doctors use to test you for it, is very unreliable and can easily show a negative result even if positive.
  • by Tom Location: TallahasseeGoo on Apr 16, 2012 at 07:16 PM
    Good article. Just remember if you need to see a doctor a month so out from being bit by a tick..... delayed symptoms! You better remember having bit. Tick bites require very specific antibiotics. Being treated with the wrong antibotic can prolong your illness and even you could die.
  • by CPC on Apr 16, 2012 at 05:09 PM
    Lyme disease causes more damage than what the CDC reports. Check out Lyme.Org to learn about the serious health problems that lyme disease causes. It is a very dibilitating illness and the quick cure of antibiotics does not always get rid of it. You can also get several co-infections like babisia, which is almost like malaria. The lyme parasite can burrow into muscle, bone, joints, organs, tissue and your brain. It causes flu like symptoms on a daily basis. It can cause seisures, brain damage, paralasis and so on in severe cases. Most primary doctors treat with only a couple of weeks antibiotics. In some cases the is sufficient but not always a cure. My husband has been dealing with lyme for 4 years now and goes to a doctor that treats lyme patients. Some other patients there have had lyme for up to 19 years and still suffer with the effects of it. Please take percautions when outside and by all means educate yourself about the real illnesses that lyme causes. Lyme is serious
  • by CC on Apr 16, 2012 at 02:39 PM
    Don't let the statement that Lyme disease can be treated easily. My husband has had lyme for 4 years and is still going through the treatment to get rid of it. Lyme if left untreated which is usually the case since people have no idea they have it, can cause brain damage, organ damage, and even paralysis. Lyme disease affects more people than HIV/AIDS. Most doctors give a 2 week regimen or antibiotics and they think that you are cured, in truth if left untreated properly it can take years to overcome Lyme. Ticks that carry lyme can also carry second co-infections such as babesia, which is the same as malaria. So do be extra careful when outdoors and please take the neccesary percautions. I speak from experience as my husband is battling lyme right now. Don't let your doctor give a few weeks of antibiotics, it doesn't work. Instead find a doctor that is actually Lyme literate. You can check out lyme.org and get the real truth about the disease.
  • by Mike Location: Tally on Apr 16, 2012 at 01:04 PM
    Many of the ticks are already active, since it was not very cold this winter. Be careful clearing overgrown areas. If you find a tick on you, be sure to put it in a zip-lock bag, so if you do develop symptoms, the bacteria can be confirmed with testing. There is a good bit of info on the web. There is treatment, but it only sucessfull in the early stages. Some damage can be permanent.
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