Local health department officials warn there are several different illnesses that are caused by tick bites.
According to Susan Arasmith with the Oregon County Health Department one such illness is Ehrlichiosis. She said the majority of people that get this disease are adults and people who spend a lot of time outdoors in tick infested areas. March through October are the months when ticks are most plentiful in the Ozarks.
She said symptoms of Ehrlichiosis may include fever, headache, malaise and muscle aches. Other signs and symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarreha, cough, joint pain and confusion.
Arasmith gave some tips on how Ehrlichiosis can be prevented.
* Avoid tick-infested areas, especially during the warmer months.
* Wear light colored clothing so ticks can be seen easily and removed. Wear a long sleeved shirt, hat, long pants and tuck your pants into your socks.
* Walk in the center of trails to avoid overhanging grass and brush.
* Check your body every few hours for ticks when you spend a lot of time outdoors in tick-infested areas. Ticks are most often found on the thigh, arms, underarms and legs or where tightly fitting clothing has been.
* Use insect repellents containing DEET on your skin. Be sure to follow the directions on the container and wash off repellents when going indoors. Carefully read the manufacturer's label on repellents before using on children.
* Remove attached ticks immediately.
Arasmith said ticks should be removed promptly and carefully by using tweezers and applying gentle, steady traction.
She said do not crush the tick's body when removing it and apply tweezers as close to the skin as possible to avoid leaving tick mouthparts in the skin.
She advised not to remove ticks with bare hands. Protect your hands with gloves, cloth, or tissue and be sure to wash your hands after removing the tick. After removing the tick, disinfect the skin with soap and water or other avaliable disinfectants.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is another disease caused by ticks and can be found in this area.
People usually start running a fever and feel nauseous about a week after being bitten by a tick. A few days after the fever begins, people who have Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever often have a rash, usually on their arms or ankles. They may also have pain in their joints, stomach pains and diarrhea.
Animals can transmit this kind of disease to humans but not directly. People get this disease when they are bitten by a tick that is carrying the bacterium R. rickettsia. Because ticks on dogs can be infected with R. rickettsia, dogs and people can get Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from the same ticks.
These ticks can also bite other animals and pass the disease to them.
Arasmith said when ticks are removed from any animal, the crushed tick or its parts can also pass this disease through any cuts or scrapes on your skin.
Another local disease caused by a tick bite is Tularemia. It also infects both humans and animals. She said rabbits are most involved in this disease outbreak. People at risk include those who come in contact with flesh or blood infected animals.
She said some symptoms of Tularemia are skin lesions and swollen glands. Ingestion of the organism in food or water may produce a throat infection, abdominal pain, diarreha and vomiting.
Arasmith said Tularemia is spread by:
* The bite of an infected tick or fly.
* Contact of the skin or mucous membranes with contaminated water or blood tissue while handling, dressing or skinning infected animals.
* Handling or eating insufficiently cooked meat of infected animal hosts.
* Drinking contaminated water.
* Inhalation of dust from contaminated soil, grain or hay.
She said these three types of tick borne illnesses are seen most in Oregon County. No reports of Lyme Disease has been reported here.