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FOR RELEASE: June 29, 2006
Tick Season Approaching, Health Officials Offer Prevention Tips
As Oklahomans gear up for summer outdoor activities, the Oklahoma State Department of Health cautions that hiking, camping and other warm weather opportunities increase exposure to ticks.
Each year, many Oklahomans become ill due to tickborne illness. In 2005, 322 cases of tickborne illnesses were reported to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Oklahoma consistently ranks among those states with the highest numbers of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and tularemia, the most common tickborne diseases in Oklahoma.
Ticks are widespread throughout the state, but they are especially prevalent in the wooded eastern half of Oklahoma. Most tickborne infections in Oklahoma are the result of a bite from the American dog tick or the Lone star tick.
Symptoms of a tickborne illness may include fever, headache (often severe), muscle aches, skin rash, vomiting, abdominal pain, and in the case of tularemia, swelling of the lymph node in the area of the tick bite.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most commonly occurring tickborne illness in the state, with 206 cases reported in 2005. Ehrlichiosis is not as frequently diagnosed but can be fatal if not treated or misdiagnosed. Tickborne diseases can be treated with appropriate antibiotics.
Lyme disease is a relatively new tickborne illness in the U.S. Although the incidence of Lyme disease in Oklahoma and other southern states appears to be very low, physicians in this part of the country have reported patients with symptoms that resemble Lyme disease, including the appearance of a “bulls-eye” type rash, yet results from laboratory tests are negative. This Lyme-disease like illness has been named Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, or STARI, and has been associated with the bite of the Lone star tick.
When participating in outdoor activities this summer, the Oklahoma State Department of Health recommends following these simple personal tick bite prevention precautions:
If you do happen to find a tick attached to you, remove as follows:
If you experience high fever, headache, tiredness, muscle aches, or a rash after a tick bite, or if you have not noticed a tick bite but have been outdoors and have these symptoms, contact your physician immediately. For more information about tickborne illnesses, visit http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/cdd/tbi.html.
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