Health officials issue a tick warning

RALEIGH The three main illnesses transmitted by ticks in North Carolina are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichiosis can be fatal if not treated.

In 2007, Wake County had 75 confirmed cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, a tick borne illness. North Carolina has the highest number of cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in the country.

"The good news is that ticks rarely transmit disease within the first 6 to 12 hours that they are on a person or pet," said David Damsker, Community Health Lead Physician for Wake County. "If people remember to check themselves and their kids for ticks everyday and remove any attached ticks immediately, it is very easy to prevent disease."

Other prevention methods include:

  • Avoiding tick habitats, like leaf litter, tall grasses and bushes.
  • Applying insect repellents to family members and pets that spend time outdoors.
  • Wearing long pants tucked into your socks when in tick habitats.
  • Wearing light colored clothing so ticks are easier to see.

Ticks often crawl to warm, moist places on the body like the groin, neck, behind the ears and under the arms. If an attached tick is found, remove it right away with tweezers, pulling it out gently, but firmly. Be sure to mark the date on a calendar. Always wash your hands and the wound after removing a tick.

If flu-like symptoms or an unexplained rash develop within several weeks of a tick bite, see a doctor immediately and let them know where and when the tick was found. There is no need to keep the tick because there is no place locally for ticks to be tested to see if they are carrying a disease. Tick borne illnesses are more difficult to treat the longer they have been in a person's system. Early diagnosis and treatment are extremely important.

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