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Don't Forget To Check For Ticks

As I was enjoying the Easter weekend along the beaches of North Carolina with my family, I noticed a tiny, dark brown bug on my leg. Being early April, I was surprised when I looked down to find a tick crawling up my shin. Fortunately, it wasn’t stuck and I easily flicked it off and away from the area. However, it got me thinking that we may be seeing ticks out a little earlier than normal this year because of the unusually warm weather we’ve experienced throughout much of the US this winter.  Most tick bites occur between April and September.  These pests go dormant if and when the temperatures drop low enough and reemerge in the warmer months.  Ticks can be more dangerous than just a painful bite.  These pests are known to carry serious diseases. 

There are many different species of ticks in the US and different types of ticks carry different types of diseases. Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks and can present itself with flu-like symptoms, but if undetected and untreated can cause severe long-term health problems.  Deer ticks can be found throughout the US.  Rocky Mountain spotted fever is another serious illness transmitted to humans by ticks, particularly the wood tick and the dog tick.  A bite from a tick infected with this disease often causes a rash around the site along with fever and headache.  If untreated, this disease is very dangerous as well. Wood ticks are most commonly found in eastern and southwestern states.  Other diseases carried by ticks include Tularemia, Colorado tick fever and tick paralysis.

Ticks prefer wooded areas and high grasses. Therefore, anytime you spend a significant amount of time outdoors you should do a thorough check over your body and hair for any of these pests. Ticks prey on other animals as well and can often be brought in close contact with humans by our pets. Ticks feed off blood and will stick their head into your skin to suck your blood.  If a tick is stuck on you, try heating up the end of a knife and touching it to the ticks back, this usually causes them to release and they can be easily removed from there.  If any part of the tick remains stuck in your skin or you develop a rash, fever, nausea or headache after a tick bite, you should seek immediate medical attention.

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