Health department seeing high number of ticks

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With the start of summer and outdoor activities, diseases spread by ticks are increasing in Ohio. While no tick-borne disease cases have been reported in Union County, the Union County Health Department encourages residents to be on the lookout for ticks.

“Residents have been reporting high numbers of ticks in areas with tall grass and/or trees. With a single tick laying up to 5,000 eggs at one time, it is important to stay vigilant and protect against tick bites, do a head to toe tick check, remove ticks as soon as you can, and watch for symptoms,” said Jennifer Thrush, public information officer for the Union County Health Department.

Thrush said the best way to prevent tick bites is to avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter, walk in the center of trails, use insect repellents registered by the EPA and labeled for use against ticks, and to wear light-colored long pants, long sleeves and long socks.

Before getting in your car or entering your home, do a head to toe tick check of yourself, children, and pets. As soon as you get home, wash clothing in hot water and take a shower.

If you find a tick attached to your skin, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull away from your skin with steady, even pressure.

Don’t twist or jerk the tick as this can cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin.

Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, or nail polish to remove a tick. 

Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, or flushing it down the toilet.  Never crush a tick with your fingers. Wash your hands and the bite area with soap and water.

“If you are bitten by a tick, keep an eye on the bite area and call your doctor if you develop a fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, joint pain, muscle aches, fatigue or a rash,” said Thrush.

No tick-borne illnesses have been reported in Union County so far in 2019. Thirty cases of tick-borne diseases have been reported in Union County residents since 2009. This equates to about three cases per year. Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne disease (24 of the 30 reported cases). Cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Babesiosis, and Ehrlichiosis have also been reported.

Diseases spread by ticks are an increasing concern in Ohio and are being reported to the Ohio Department of Health more frequently in the past decade, with Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) being the most commonly reported in the state. 

Other tick-borne diseases such as anaplasmosis, babesiosis and ehrlichiosis are also on the rise in Ohio.

The Union County Health Department does not test ticks for diseases, but can identify the species of tick. Knowing the species of tick is useful in determining what type of diseases it is most likely to carry. Residents can submit ticks to the Union County Health Department for identification of species by emailing a close-up photo of the tick to ehcontact@uchd.net or by bringing it into the Health Department in a sealed container.

For more information about ticks in Ohio, please visit https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/know-our-programs/zoonotic-disease-program/resources/tickborne-diseases.



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