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Health Experts Warn About Dangers of Tick Bites

Health experts urge residents to take extra steps to help avoid any possible sicknesses.
JASPER COUNTY, Mo. (KODE) Catching an illness from a tick bite is rare, but health experts still urge residents to take extra steps to help avoid any possible sicknesses.

"If you're walking on trails, try to walk down the middle of the trail where it's mowed down," said Steve McKarus, Jasper County Environmental Health Supervisor.

Environmental specialists say ticks like to perch on leaves and grass stems before they leap onto you. The insects locate humans based off of body heat.

"They can kind of sense heat ranges and so as you pass by, they'll pick up on that increase and can locate you like that," said McKarus.

He suggest you use at least a 20% concentration insecticide. Lower concentrations do not repel lone-star ticks, which is Missouri's most common species.

"DEET interferes with the ticks ability to locate you. And if you're going to be outdoors quite a bit, you can spray promethean on your clothing, and that will actually kill ticks and chiggers," he said.

Medical experts say although tick bites can cause lime disease, it's rare to get that disease.

"We see things like your Ehrlichiosis or Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, there's a few others ones that are around here, but usually not long term problems," said Dr. Sam Brewer, Freeman Health System.

He says once the tick is removed properly, keep an eye on the bite.

"A lot of times people don't think about that being associated with each other, is the tick bite to the illness. Fevers and headaches are probably the biggest things that patients should watch out for," said Dr. Brewer.

Rashes, vomiting, and general cold-like symptoms are found in more severe cases, but diseases are rare with tick bites. However, medical experts say anxious parents are very common.

"I would caution parents to not get too anxious about it, especially in front of their children. Even if it might scare you to death as a parent, be calm because that child then may develop a deadly fear of ticks," said Dr. Brewer.

Now Dr. Brewer is speaking from experience as a physician and parent, he said his son worried for a few days about a tick they removed from the top of his head, so he emphasizes parents remain calm. Environmental specialists say we're in the prime time for ticks and people shouldn't expect to see relief until the first real freeze.
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