Residents need to protect themselves from tick bites this summer, Clark County health leaders said, especially as the CDC reported cases of tick-borne illnesses on the rise nationwide.
The most common illnesses carried by ticks in Ohio are Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, according to Larry Shaffer, environmental director for the Clark County Combined Health District.
“Symptoms may vary but they include flu-like symptoms — rash, joint pain, swelling, numbness, weakness,” he said.
Ticks are found in tall grass and brush, he said, and attach themselves to humans and animals. The best way to prevent a tick bite, he said, is wearing bug spray with Deet.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends people walk in the middle of a trail while hiking, use products with permethrin on clothing, and bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming inside.
If a person does find an attached tick, Shaffer said it should be removed with tweezers.
“It’s important to remove ticks if they’re attached as quickly as possible,” he said. “That’ll greatly reduce the risk of disease transmission.”
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If possible, he said the tick should be saved in the freezer for about three weeks.
“If they start to experience any of the symptoms,” Shaffer said, “then they should take that tick and go see a physician immediately.”
Saving the tick will help physicians to more quickly diagnose the kind of tick-borne illness someone might have caught.
Two recent cases of Lyme disease have been reported in Clark County, he said, although he’s not sure where they were contracted.
Clark County is home to several outdoor parks where ticks can be found. At Buck Creek State Park, visitors said Wednesday they’ll take extra precautions this summer to prevent tick bites.
“Extra spray, yeah, extra spray,” David Kees said.
He and his father, Dennis Kees, were out fishing at Buck Creek State Park on Wednesday. They like to get outside whenever possible.
“It can be dangerous,” David Kees said.
They said they know there are risks.
“In the woods, when there’s a lot of bugs, yeah you’ll need some good bug spray,” Dennis Kees said.
But they said the risks aren’t enough to keep them from enjoying the outdoors.
More information on ticks and the diseases they can carry can be found on the Clark County Combined Health District’s website at http://www.ccchd.com/ccchd/environmental/ticks.html
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