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Ticks and Disease

Ticks bites can lead to disease. Governor Blunt is expected to proclam that May is Missouri tick-borne disease awareness month. Michele Skalicky has more.

Governor Blunt is expected to sign a proclamation tomorrow (5/9) designating the month of May as Missouri tick-borne diseaseand awareness month. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, a number of serious diseases, some potentially fatal, can be transmitted to humans through the bit of an infected tick.

In the U.S., ticks are responsible for more human disease than any other insect.

Linda DeGraffenried, epidemiologist with the Springfield/Greene County Health Department, says there are several diseases you can get from ticks in this area.

"We have Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and there's never been documented cases of lyme disease, but we call it lyme-like disease in this area and there's eurlicheosis, and that's another tick-borne disease."

There are ways to avoid getting bit by ticks. The obvious thing to do is avoid areas where ticks live, places with a lot of tall weeds. But there are other things you can do, short of staying indoors.

"Use repellant the best you can, and make sure that if you go outdoors you look yourself over, and just make sure that you remove them immediately with tweezers. There are some DEETS out there that you can use on your clothing as well."

If you do get a tick bite, there are some symptoms you should watch for that are associated with tick-borne diseases.

"A lot of them, of course, we're going to say flu-like. A lot of them have the fever, the aches and pain. Some of them have the rashing. You might experience a rash, fever, muscle aches. And it's not going to be a sudden onset. It could be as short as three days, even 14 days, and each illness has its specific incubation time. But if you think you do have a tick-borne illness, you definitely want to go to your physician and they can properly treat you with an antiobiotic."

To find out about specific tick-borne diseases and to learn more about avoiding tick bites, go to dhss.mo.gov/TicksCarryDisease.org.


  • MDHSS tick page