Warmer weather brings the threat of ticks and tick-borne illnesses. While we want all of our patients to enjoy as much outdoor time as possible, we also want them to do so in a safe way. The first step to avoiding contracting an illness caused by a tick bite is to be able to identify a tick and take the appropriate precautions when outside.
There are at least six different tick-borne diseases in Missouri: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, tularemia, Q-fever, lyme or a lyme-like disease, and the southern tick-associated rash illness. While all ticks bite, not all ticks carry diseases, which means that if you are bitten by a tick, you may not have been exposed to any form of infection.
- What are ticks? Ticks are small parasites that suck blood. They are often found where animals are abundant. In Missouri they are most active from April to September, although as soon as the temperatures are above freezing ticks become active.
- Where do they live? Ticks tend to live in wooded and grassy areas. Ticks can live in your backyard – you do not have to be out in the woods to come in contact with them. Ticks can also live on pets.
Precautions to take when headed outdoors.
- Avoid tick infested areas
- Wear long pants and long sleeves with socks and boots if out hiking or in wooded or grassy areas
- Stay on designated trails and paths
- Apply repellents to your skin and clothing – treat your legs and socks especially
Precautions to take when you head indoors
- Make a habit of tick inspection as soon as you return. The
sooner you check the better. Make sure to check:
- Under the arms
- In and around the ears
- Inside belly button
- Back of the knees
- In and around the hair
- Between the legs
- Around the waist
- Shower within two hours of returning inside
- Tumble dry your clothes for at least 10 minutes on high
- Examine your pets
What to do if you find a tick?
If you do find a tick attached to your or a family member, there is no need to panic. The important thing is to remove the tick as soon as possible. Check out this link from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on how to remove a tick in four simple steps.
Precaution is key to avoiding being infected by a tick. If you are affected by a tick bite, it is important to monitor how you feel and look for any signs of rash or fever. If you develop a rash or fever after removing a tick, see your doctor or come into Our Urgent Care immediately to receive proper treatment. And as always, we are here for you 7 days a week to meet all of your medical needs.