OKLAHOMA CITY - We just had the hottest March on record here in Oklahoma. While it may be great for our tans, it could be bad for our blood.

Experts warn tick activity is starting earlier than usual, putting more people at risk.

Experts at Oklahoma State University said Oklahomans need to be especially concerned with tick-related illness, and it's not the usual culprit, Lyme disease.

Often hard to diagnose and tricky to treat, tick-borne illnesses are commonplace in the Sooner state.

"We have more cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever here in Oklahoma than anywhere else," Dr. Justin Talley said. It feels like the flu coupled with a rash, but can be fatal if left untreated.

"Even when you go on a bike ride, just that period when you get off the bike and are in that tall grass, that's where you are gonna pick up a lot of ticks," Talley said.

It took Kyle Risser a while to realize he'd been bitten.

"It felt like a bug bite, it just itched, but when I looked at it, there was a tick embedded in my stomach," Risser said.

Dr. Talley points out after you come from outdoors, make sure you check yourself for ticks because it actually takes hours for them to imbed into your skin. Dust it off and make sure you flush it down the toilet. If it's embedded, remove it with tweezers slowly.

If you don't pull it out right, the head can still get stuck in the skin and still cause disease.

Don't forget your pooch. A little loving and lots of attention keeps them safe.

"They have short hair, and if you pet them a lot, you feel them," Jessica Lambrecht said.

So remember, grassy wooded areas, and pet that go in and outdoors carry ticks. But any repellent with 20 to 40 percent of Deet keeps you safe.