Number of tick-related illnesses rises in Douglas County
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Ten times the number of tick-related illnesses in the area were reported this June than in June 2012, according to the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department.
And the hotter it gets, the more reports there are likely to be.
“We are just seeing a significant number of more cases,” said Shirley Grubbs, communicable disease nurse with the health department.
Ticks can usually be found in tall grasses and bushes. They latch on to people walking by, and could cause Lyme disease, which can cause a skin rash and arthritis symptoms, Ehrlichiosis, with symptoms like muscle aches and fatigue, and Tularemia, which can result in stiffness, eye irritation and shortness of breath, all according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Grubbs said there has been an increased number of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which could cause symptoms like headaches, nausea and abdominal pain.
This June, 20 cases of tick-borne illnesses in Douglas County were investigated by the local health department.
Ticks usually attach themselves to the under arms, around the waist, behind knees, between legs, inside belly buttons and in hair.
Here are some suggestions from the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department on how to avoid an infection:
• Stay away from wooded and bushy areas.
• Cut your grass.
• Wear light-colored clothing in order to see the ticks more clearly.
• Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and wear long-sleeved shirts buttoned at the wrist.
• Use repellents containing at least 20 percent DEET for those ages 2 and older.
• Shower within two hours after returning indoors.
• Conduct tick checks every four to six hours for several days after being in tick-infested areas.
• Remove the ticks as quickly as possible; ticks must be attached for 24 hours before illnesses can occur.
To remove ticks, the health department recommends using tweezers and pulling with even pressure. After removal, clean the area and your hands with soap and water. If symptoms like rash, fever, headache, joint or muscle pains appear, contact a doctor.