Number of tick-related illnesses rises in Douglas County

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.


Peannejeggy 9 months, 1 week ago

I've gotten bad chigger bites this summer. I keep my yard trimmed and debris cleared, but still they found a way. I'm now fighting a three week allergic reaction of a bad rash. Been to the doctor twice --- sure enough they say this part of the country just gets hit bad by these types of bugs. Make sure to wear deet bug spray and cover up if it's not too hot. God willing, I don't get bit again.


jhawk1998 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Not at all surprised. The county and/or health care providers underreport these initial breakouts and then we end up with a much larger outbreak. If they just released information early on when illnesses arise citizens would have the opportunity to take more precautions.


mikekt 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I have been doing a lot of outside walking on walks and across streets and parking lots and the walks at holcum rec.ctr...

I have been getting bit by chigger like bites that don’t respond to standard things as chiggers do and develop into itchy dime size or bigger pink-red welts that last for five or six days till they peal and start to clear out .

Have heard that they might be sand fleas and that their bites cause almost allergic responses in people,...something in their saliva ?.. or more so, than chiggers .

As their name implies, they like sandy spots and favor areas where decaying plant mater is found with sand.

Try finding a street or parking lot in Lawrence that has no sand or vegetable matter like leaves or dead grass clippings that support them .

Aloe Vera Gel from the Aloe Vera Plant seems to help with the itch and vitamins c helps, as with a cold .

The itch is so bad that it is hard to sleep thru .

Yes, I tried hydrocortisone cream, antihistamine creams, the clear nail polish like chigger bite stuff, etc ..

Those things are just nasty and I wish that people would clear the street corners of sand piles that build up and parking lots and park walk ways .

Anybody ever heard of street sweepers ? Or blowers to round up their habitat and remove it?


xclusive85 9 months, 2 weeks ago

LogicMan, I don't know if this is going to post in the correct spot. I actually just did this on my dog a couple of days ago. She had a tick on her ear. It took between 30 seconds and a minute for the tick to come out.


Success 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I've been working in the garden a lot lately. I am covered with what appears to be chigger bites in all the locations of my body identified in this article and then some. Because my work has involved digging out Bermuda grass roots and bind weed my muscles and joints hurt. I can't see any ticks on my body but wonder if all the aches and pains come from the strenuous work or from missing ticks when I examine my skin as I shower after becoming covered with soil from crawling around the garden.


xclusive85 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Kernal, my grandpa taught me a trick a long time ago. To remove a tick, cover it in liquid dish soap. The tick will back out on it's own because it's oxygen is cut off!


kernal 9 months, 2 weeks ago

And, wear a hat because it's really hard to get a tick out of your scalp by yourself


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