Pierre, SD. – Head outdoors and enjoy the spring weather this Memorial Day weekend but keep an eye out for ticks to prevent tularemia and other tick-borne diseases, says a state health official.
“We see cases of tick-borne illness every year in South Dakota,” said Dr. Joshua Clayton, state epidemiologist for the Department of Health. “You can protect yourself when you’re outside by checking yourself and young children often and removing any ticks you find right away. It also helps to tuck your pant legs into your socks and spray your clothes and any exposed skin with repellent.”
In 2017 the department investigated 13 cases of tularemia, 11 cases of Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis and 11 of Lyme disease. Lyme disease is carried by the Ioxdes deer tick, which prefers heavily forested areas. The tick has been found in some eastern counties but most areas of the state are not suitable habitat. Most Lyme disease cases reported in South Dakota had deer tick bites out of state.
A tick bite is a small, painless red bump. If a tick is attached, use tweezers or tissue to grasp the tick close to the skin without crushing it. Pull upward with steady, even pressure to remove the tick. Clean the bite area and your hands with soap and water, especially if you remove the tick with bare hands.
Symptoms of tick-borne illness occur several weeks after the tick bite and might include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, a rash on the arms or legs or around the site of the bite, and swollen lymph nodes. Call your doctor immediately if you develop these symptoms.
Activities you can do to prevent tick-borne illness:
– Wear repellant (products with 20% DEET or more, picardin, or IR3535 on exposed skin) or permethrin treated clothes.
– Check yourself for ticks daily after you have been outside, especially in wooded or brushy areas with high grass.
– Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
– Check (and treat with insecticide) your pets for ticks. Remove ticks from pets frequently as ticks can ride into your home on pets.
– Call your doctor if you develop a fever or rash. Be sure to tell your doctor about any recent tick bite or time spent in areas with ticks.
Fact sheets on specific tick-borne diseases can be found at: http://doh.sd.gov/diseases/.