AREA -- State and local public health officials are urging Missourians to protect themselves from tick bites following the recent death of a northeast Missouri child from a tick-borne disease.
"It is tick season and we live where there are ticks," said Shiela Russell, administrator with the Oregon County Health Department.
She said the health department has seen cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme-like tick diseases in the past but not this year.
"Any type of tick bite needs to be watched. High fever, redness and a rash are all signs of disease from a tick bite," Russell said.
She said there are several things people in the Ozarks can do to protect themselves against tick bites.
"If you're going to be outside always use a repellent. Try to stay out of high grass and weeds when walking outside. Wearing long pants and long sleeves and tucking your pants in your socks will keep ticks from getting on your body," Russell said.
She said to check for ticks on your body before going inside and to always check your animals.
Russell said if you do get a tick bite to remove the tick immediately.
The longer ticks are on a person the greater the chance of contracting an illness.
State health department officials suggest using tweezers to grasp ticks as close to the skin as possible.
"Do not twist or jerk the tick which could cause the ticks head to be left in the skin," said the health department nurse. She said to wash the bite area as well as hands with soap and water after removing the tick.
State Health Department officials said ticks are common in Missouri and Arkansas year-round but are the most dangerous from March to October.