Staff Services: Kelly Spindler, RS
Residents need to know that not all ticks cause human disease, but certain species of ticks can carry the bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Lyme disease. It is always best to avoid ticks if possible, and at the same time become familiar with tick borne diseases and their symptoms.
The American dog tick is the primary carrier of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the eastern United States. In Ohio, this tick is widespread and abundant. It will bite and feed on any available mammal, including humans.
The bacteria that cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever is transmitted to humans through the tick’s saliva while feeding. Only one to three percent of the tick population carries this bacterium, so risk of exposure to an infected tick are pretty low.
Symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever appear two to 14 days after the tick bite. These symptoms can include a sudden onset of fever, headache, flu-like symptoms and often followed by a characteristic spotted rash. The rash first appears at the wrists and ankles, and may spread if not treated. When diagnosed early, Rocky Mountain spotted fever is treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, it can be fatal.
Lyme is a bacterial disease caused by a spirochete-type bacterium. Lyme disease is transmitted by the black legged tick, also known as the “deer tick”. This tick is commonly found in areas of deciduous forest and especially with leaf litter. This tick is rare, but has been found – which means they are being imported into our area through migratory birds, animals and pets that travelfrom one area to another.
The first sign of a Lyme disease infection is the characteristic “bull’s eye” rash that develops at the site of where the tick was attached to the person. This rash usually appears seven to 14 days after the tick exposure. Other symptoms could include muscle aches, tiredness, fever, swollen glands, headache and joint pain. Lyme infections can have long-term, chronic complications that develop months or years after infection.
In its early stages, Lyme disease is commonly treated with antibiotics. Having Lyme disease once, unfortunately does not protect against re-infection. Note that people cannot get Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Lyme disease from another person. The disease is only spread through a tick that is infected with the disease.
** This year, the Ohio Department of Health is no longer testing ticks. Therefore, the Fairfield Department of Health will no longer be collecting ticks for testing.
Also, be aware of the symptoms of tick borne diseases and see your healthcare provider if you experience these symptoms.
Ticks are active in Ohio from early spring to late fall. To avoid exposure to ticks, obviously avoid tick-infested areas. Dog ticks are often found in overgrown lost and along weedy roadsides, paths and trails. In spring and summer, ticks wait on vegetation for a person or animal to brush against the vegetation. Then the tick will cling to fur or clothing and look for a place to attach and begin feeding. Contrary to popular belief, ticks don’t fall out of trees – they climb up to your head and attach to your scalp.
So, if you go into these places, tuck your pants into your sock tops or boots. Wear light colored clothing to make it easier to see ticks. Use repellants and follow their instruction carefully. Check your dogs that have been outside. Keep your yard and outdoor play areas well mowed to discourage tick infestation.
Stick to main pathways and the center of trails when hiking.
Wear long-sleeved, light colored shirts and long pants tucked into your socks.
Use repellents that contain DEET on your clothes or exposed skin.
Use repellents that contain permethrin on your clothes.
Keep grass cut short.
Remove leaf litter and brush from around your home.
Prune low lying brushes to let in more sunlight.
Keep woodpiles and bird feeders off the ground and away from your home.
Plant trees or flowers that do not attract deer and install a fence to keep deer from entering your property.
Check yourself for ticks first and then other family members and pets. Check along the hairline, between the toes, back of the knees, groin, armpits, neck, and behind the ears.
also known as the "deer tick,"