As warmer weather arrives, the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health would like to remind residents to protect themselves from ticks. Besides being a nuisance, some ticks can transmit diseases, such as Lyme disease, to people.
“Tickborne illness is very serious and can cause lifelong health issues if contracted,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, director of communicable disease control services for Saint Louis County Department of Public Health, “but thankfully there are measures the community can take to prevent these illnesses.”
The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health recommends a number of steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from ticks:
Avoid wooded and brushy areas with tall grass and leaf litter. Walk in the center of trails.
Dress appropriately: wear light-colored clothing, wear long pants and sleeves, tuck in shirts, tuck pants into socks, and wear closed-toe shoes.
Use insect repellents on the skin that contain ≥20% DEET. (“Natural” products, such as citronella, are not effective.)
Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear, or treat your gear and clothing with permethrin before departure.
Check for ticks. You should always check your body, clothing, gear, and pets for ticks during and after outdoor activities. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
Quickly removing attached ticks and showering within 2 hours of being in a tick-infested area reduces the risk of some tickborne diseases. You should also tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill any remaining ticks. Additional dry time may be needed if clothes are damp.
If you find a tick, use tweezers to grasp it as close to the skin as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth-parts easily, leave it alone and let the skin heal. After removing the tick, thoroughly cleanthe bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
If you have been bitten by a tick and develop the symptoms below within a few weeks, contact your primary care provider for evaluation and to discuss potential treatment options:
Fever/chills: With all tickborne diseases, patients can experience fever at varying degrees and time
Aches and pains: Tickborne disease symptoms include headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. With Lyme disease you may also experience joint pain. The severity and time of onset of these symptoms can depend on the disease and the patient's personal tolerance level.
Rash: Lyme disease, southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), ehrlichiosis, and tularemia can result in distinctive rashes
For more information regarding tickborne diseases such as Lyme disease and others: