The Federal Center for Disease Control said Arkansas is prime territory for disease carrying arthropods such as ticks, and citizens of southeastern and southcentral United States should be aware of symptoms of the illnesses.
Local health department officials warn there are several different illnesses that are caused by tick bites and although most can be easily treated once symptoms are identified, some are fatal if treatment is neglected.
According to a county health department official, one possible illness is Ehrlichiosis (err-lick-ee-uh). The official 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.
The Federal CDC lists symptoms of Ehrlichiosis that closely resemble those of many common diseases such as food poisoning and influenza. Symptoms usually arise five to 10 days after being bitten and can include:
* Fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, joint pain, confusion and occasionally rash.
These are 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.
Health department officials said ticks should be removed promptly and carefully by using tweezers and applying gentle, steady traction. Do not crush the tick's body when removing it and tweezers should be applied as close to the skin as possible to avoid leaving tick mouthparts in the skin.
It is 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 available disinfectants.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is another disease caused by ticks and can be found in this area. This disease can be treated but can also be fatal if untreated.
People usually start having a fever and feeling 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:
* Rash, usually on their arms or ankles, may have pain in their joints and stomach and may acquire 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.
Health department officials 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. Rabbits are most affected by this disease outbreak. People at risk include those who come in contact with flesh or blood infected animals. Symptoms, according to the Federal CDC, are similar to Ehrlichiosis and also include:
* Sudden fever, chills, headaches, diarrhea, muscles aches, joint pain, dry cough and progressive weakness.
Tularemia is often 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.
These three types of tick borne illnesses are seen most in the south central United States, according to the Federal CDC, and pose the largest threat to local citizens. By utilizing prevention techniques, following the tick removal instructions and visiting your local or family doctor if signs occur, serious illness can be prevented.