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Take steps to avoid tick diseases

Published: May 24, 2017 1:00 AM

The Portage County Health District advises county residents of the increased risk of tick-borne diseases, including Lyme's disease, in recent years.

Ticks, which can be found on both humans and their pets, are most active in Ohio from early spring through summer, the department said. The three most common ticks found in Ohio are the Black-Legged Tick, American Dog Tick, and Lone Star Tick.

Some species of ticks may transmit diseases, which can result in mild to serious illness or death.

Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease transmitted by the Black-Legged Tick. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic skin rash (the "bull's-eye" rash), swollen glands, headache, and joint pain.

If left untreated, infection can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash) and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks; laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods.

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Rocky Mountain Spotted fever is another tick-borne disease transmitted by the American Dog Tick. Typical symptoms include: fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting and muscle pain. A rash may also develop, but is often absent in the first few days, and in some patients, never develops.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be a severe or even fatal illness if not treated in the first few days of symptoms.

Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii are a third tick-borne diseases transmitted by the Lone Star Tick. Typical symptoms include: fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches.

Proper protection from ticks and prompt removal are important to preventing infection and disease transmission.

Prevention tactics for people include avoiding tick-infested areas, walk in the center of trails, tucking pants into sock tops or boots, wearing light colored clothing to make it easier to find crawling ticks, using repellants containing 20 to 30 percent DEET and following label instructions carefully.

The health department also reminds residents to check themselves, their children, and their pets often for ticks during this time of year. Check 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 the hair.

Also, check coats, bags and backpacks for ticks. Bathe or shower after exposure to tick habitats (preferably within 2 hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks.

Prevention for dogs include reducing tick habitat in the yard by removing leaf litter, clearing tall grasses and brush around homes and edges of lawns, mowing grass frequently, placing a three foot wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into recreational areas, stacking wood neatly and in dry areas to prevent attracting rodents which carry ticks, asking a veterinarian about available treatments to control ticks on pets, and inspecting dogs for ticks

For additional information about preventing tick bites for you, your family and pets, removing ticks, and preventing ticks in your yard is located on the Ohio Department of Health website or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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