There are nine major diseases carried by ticks in the United States including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, tularemia and Colorado Tick Fever.
Lyme disease is spreading and has been found in deer ticks in Oklahoma. Infected ticks begin transmitting Lyme disease around 36 to 48 hours after attachment, so early removal will reduce the chances of contracting the disease.
Make these precautions part of your outdoor routine:
- Wear enclosed shoes and light colored clothing with a tight weave
- Use inspect repellent containing DEETS on skin or clothes, following manufacturer’s directions
- Avoid sitting directly on the ground or stone walls
- Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails
- Keep long hair tied back
- Scan clothes and any exposed skin frequently while outdoors.
- Do a full-body tick check at the end of the day.
- Spin clothes in a hot dryer for 20 minutes to kill any unseen ticks
Early symptoms can be mild. An expanding rash (from 5-6 inches expanding to 2 feet) may radiate from the site of the tick bite within one to two weeks of disease transmission. Then joint aches, chills, fever and fatigue may occur. Early diagnosis and treatment is usually simple and effective. However, if left untreated, symptoms may worsen into severe headaches, painful arthritis swelling of joints and cardiac abnormalities within a few months.
If you find ticks on your body after spending time outdoors, remove them carefully and drop them into a vial of alcohol. This preserves them for examination if illness occurs. Stay alert for symptoms and seek medical help if symptoms continue or seem severe.