When you think about tick-related illnesses, there is a good chance you think of Lyme disease. However, Oklahoma is consistently one of the least-affected states for Lyme disease while even neighboring states report many cases each year. In Oklahoma, the main tick-borne illnesses include Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever .
What are the symptoms of Ehrlichiosis?
If a tick carrying the bacterium that causes ehrlichiosis feeds on you for at least 24 hours, you may begin to show symptoms. The symptoms will appear within 14 days of the bite:
Loss of appetite
Cases of ehrlichiosis vary in severity. Some patients may have symptoms so mild that they never seek medical attention. In best-case scenarios, the body fights off the illness on its own without medical intervention. If the symptoms are severe, however, hospitalization may be needed if patients put off treatment.
What are the symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Tick Fever?
Symptoms usually appear within the first week although it may take up to two weeks. Initial signs and symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted tick fever may mimic other illnesses leaving many without proper treatment initially. The symptoms include:
Confusion or other neurological changes
Nausea and vomiting
Red, non-itchy rash
Tick bites become common starting in the spring but can occur year-around during mild winters. As we go into the time of the year when we enjoy more time outdoors, be on the lookout for ticks on your children, pets and yourself. To prevent tick bites, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following:
How do I prevent tick bites?
Exercise caution in areas that are grassy, heavily wooded or leaf-filled. Wear protective clothing that covers as much as possible when hiking or walking in these types of areas.
Wear protective clothing and bug repellent containing DEET when hiking or walking through tall grass. When coming inside from outdoors, shower within two hours. Thoroughly wash and check crevices where ticks could hide. Discuss preventative measures with your veterinarian for your pets and thoroughly check their fur on a regular basis.
Tricks for tick removal
Remove ticks immediately upon finding them on you with tweezers. Avoid squeezing the tick and pull slowly to avoid leaving part behind or causing the tick to go into the skin deeper. Then, dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet. Wash the affected area with soap and water. Call your physician if you begin experiencing any tick illness-related symptoms.
Make a practice of tossing your clothes in the dryer for a few minutes before washing them. Ticks are not easy to drown, but they cannot withstand dry environments. Therefore, even a short dryer cycle should be sufficient to suffocate and kill them.
If you are concerned due to exposure to a tick and have other questions, reach out to our CCMH Physicians. You can make an appointment today by visiting CCMHHealth.com/Providers.
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