2 tick-related diseases reported in Tazewell County

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TREMONT (WEEK) — With the warmer weather having more people spending time outdoors, the Tazewell County Health Department is bringing awareness to tickborne illnesses after two cases were reported last week.

The health department received reports of Rocky Mount Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease on May 13 and 14.

The former, which is transmitted through the American dog tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick, and brown dog tick, includes symptoms of fever, severe headache, abdominal pain, vomiting and muscle pain, according to the TCHD. A rash may also develop, but is often absent in the first few days, and in some patients, never develops.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be a severe or even fatal illness if not treated in the first few days of symptoms.

Lyme Disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected deer tick, which also is known as the black-legged tick. 

Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease can vary greatly from one person to another. Symptoms also vary with the length of time a person has been infected. A ring-like red rash occurs in about 70 – 80 percent of cases and begins three days to 32 days after the bite of an infected tick. In the center, the rash usually clears and has been described as resembling a bull’s-eye. Often this rash is accompanied by one or more nonspecific symptoms: fatigue, chills and fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and joint and muscle pain. Oral antibiotics are usually used for treatment.

The best way to protect against tickborne illnesses is to avoid tick bites by taking the following precautions:

Apply insect repellent containing DEET (30 percent or less) to exposed skin (except the face). If you do cover up, use repellents for clothing containing DEET or permethrin to treat clothes (especially pants, socks and shoes) while in locations where ticks may be common. Follow label directions; do not misuse or overuse repellents. Permethrin repellents must be used on clothing only, not on skin.
Ticks are usually found in ankle- to shin-high grass and weeds. Ticks cannot hop or fly. Walk in the center of trails so weeds do not brush against you.
“Tick Checks” are an important method of preventing tickborne diseases. In areas where ticks may be present, be sure and check yourself, children and other family members every two to three hours for ticks.
Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferable within 2 hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.

If you let your pets outdoors, check them often for ticks. Infected ticks also can transmit disease to them. (Check with your veterinarian about preventive measures against tickborne diseases.) You are at risk from ticks that “hitch a ride” on your pets, but fall off in your home before they feed.
Remove any tick promptly. Do not try to burn the tick with a match or cover it with petroleum jelly or nail polish. Do not use bare hands. The best way to remove a tick is to grasp it with fine-point tweezers as close to the skin as possible and gently, but firmly, pull it straight out. Do not twist or jerk the tick. If tweezers are not available, grasp the tick with a piece of cloth or whatever can be used as a barrier between your fingers and the tick. You may want to put the tick in a jar of rubbing alcohol labeled with the date and location of the bite in case you seek medical attention and your physician wishes to have the tick identified.

Wash the bite area and your hands thoroughly with soap and water; apply an antiseptic to the bite site.
Keep your grass mowed and keep weeds cut around your home.
Know the symptoms of tickborne disease and consult your physician if you have a fever and a rash or unexplained flu-like illness (without a cough) following a tick bite.

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