JOPLIN, MO – Ticks are a common pest in Missouri during this time of year.
This year, the Joplin Health Department has seen 11 cases of tickborne illnesses.
The most common illness is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which could be deadly.
“Ticks can carry different infections. The most common one we see in this area is something which used to be called Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.” Says Uwe Schmidt, Director of Infectious Disease at Freeman Health System.
The Joplin Health Department says 11 people have reported tickborne illnesses this year.
9 of those were diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted fever.
“Some of these people are extremely sick. I just saw a lady 2 days ago in her 70’s, she was completely confused. She had temperatures of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Then the blood work was very revealing. The white count was very low the platelets had dropped and she had an inflamed liver.” Says Schmidt.
She was treated with an antibiotic and within a day, her confusion went away.
Tick related symptoms can take days to 2 weeks to develop.
The lone star tick is common in Missouri, which can cause an allergy to meat.
Ticks are generally found in tall vegetation and they catch onto animals or humans.
“If you have a tick that’s attached to you, you need to get as close to the skin as possible and pull it off. Tweezers work very good because you want to get it right next to the skin you want to get as much of that tick in your grasp.” Says Francis Skalicky, Media Specialist Missouri Department of Conservation.
Do not squeeze the tick because they carry diseases and it could push the bacteria into your blood stream.
He says the best way to protect yourself from ticks is to spray yourself with bug spray and wear long pants.
He recommends showering after being outdoors to wash away any ticks or chiggers.