OCCHD Seeing Uptick In Tick Bites And Illness
OKLAHOMA CITY - As things green up outside, ticks are already becoming a problem. The Oklahoma City-County Health Department is now alerting citizens to an uptick in tick bites as well as cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
The CDC reports that the number of cases of tick-borne illness has doubled since 2004, and I learned the hard way just how prevalent the tick population already is in here this year.
OCCHD’s public health protection director Phil Maytubby says right now, no one is safe in a wooded area.
“Where there’s shrubs and trees and high grass,” he defines, “because they like to get there and wait until something comes by that they want to latch onto.”
Although Maytubby searched high and low for ticks to show me, he didn’t see any. That doesn’t mean they weren't there.
Health officials say if you are out hiking or running, you should stay as close to the center of the path as possible to avoid those tall grasses and low-hanging branches. Even though it is hot outside, it is also recommended you wear long sleeves and long pants. Above all, you should definitely wear a heavy coat of DEET-containing bug spray, concentration 20% or higher.
Even all the basic precautions couldn't protect me, though. While shooting this story, I picked up at least 15 ticks on my pants, and I discovered eight of them took a bite.
My doctor prescribed me antibiotics, but let's just hope I don't have one of the many tick-borne viruses like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Now I have to be alert to new pain, headaches or rashes in the coming weeks.
“Biggest thing is probably the fatigue that’s going to be dragging you down because your body is trying to fight it off,” Maytubby advises.
It seems the only real way to tick-off ticks is the chemical Permethrin. Maytubby explains, “You can spray it on just like you would an insect repellant on your skin. It’s just you’re going to put it on your clothes and let it dry.”
If ticks aren’t bad enough for you, OCCHD says recent rains and hot temperatures have made the perfect breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitos. Their population is expected to explode over the course of the next week.
To learn more about tick bites and diseases, click here.