Velocity Care provides tips on what symptoms to look for and how to keep your family safe from tick-borne diseases
With the onset of global warming and therefore milder overall temperatures, tick populations are steadily increasing, especially in Louisiana and Arkansas. In Arkansas alone, ticks are responsible for the spread of more diseases than any other insect; and due to the climate in this region, they are active all year round. These tiny insects are usually found in grassy, wooded areas and cling to their hosts as they brush up against them while passing by.
Ticks feed on the blood of their hosts by latching onto the skin and inserting a barbed feeding tube through the skin’s surface. It’s through this process of feeding that the tick can transfer numerous different parasites and bacteria to a human, causing a wide range of diseases. Ticks can often go unnoticed for days, continuing to feed and infect their host.
Below are the three most common tick-borne diseases and their symptoms in the Louisiana and Arkansas region:
The anaplasma phagocytophilum bacteria are responsible for this disease and the blacklegged tick spreads it. You can find this species of ticks in Arkansas, primarily in well-shaded areas along the sides of the roads; where lawns meet wooded areas; in tall, grassy fields; and in well-forested locations. If you receive a bite from an infected tick, symptoms will usually begin to appear within a week’s time. Fever, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, headache and muscle pain are the primary symptoms. A positive blood test will result in an antibiotic prescription, which should clear up this illness in a short period of time.
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Carried by both the American dog tick and the brown dog tick species, Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most common tick-borne disease found in the southern United States. When one of these ticks attaches to a human and begins to feed, it can take 4 to 6 hours for the disease to spread. Weedy, overgrown areas and hiking paths are prime areas to find these ticks, and the summer months are when humans are at the highest risk. The symptoms for Rocky Mountain spotted fever usually appear quite suddenly, about a week after infection, and the majority of the people diagnosed do not know that a tick has bitten them. Symptoms can include very high fever, severe headache, body aches and a mild, pink rash that usually starts on the wrists, arms and ankles. Quick treatment is very important if you suspect that you may have this disease as organ damage can occur, and in severe cases, it may be fatal. A simple blood test will determine if you have the disease. If you catch it early enough, it usually responds well to antibiotic treatment.
- Lyme disease.
This disease is relatively uncommon for people who live in Louisiana and Arkansas, with only two confirmed cases in this area so far this year. In other areas of the country, however, it’s on the rise. Due to its rising rates of infection, Lyme disease is the most commonly known tick-borne disease, and you should take care to avoid it when traveling to the Northeast. The most common signs of an infection include a spreading red rash at the site of the tick bite, fever, headache and lethargy. If not properly treated early on, this disease can cause long-term problems in the joints, recurrent headaches, heart palpitations and the loss of mobility in one side of the face.
The best way to stay safe from tick-borne diseases is to avoid areas where ticks are common and to keep your legs and arms covered when venturing out where ticks may be hiding. It’s important to check your entire body for ticks after you’ve spent time outdoors because most people don’t feel a tick when it bites. Also, be sure to carefully examine your pets to ensure they haven’t brought any uninvited guests into your home. If you have received a tick bite, it’s important to visit an urgent care clinic to get a diagnosis. Quick treatment is the key to avoid long-term complications when it comes to tick-borne diseases.
For more information on tick-borne diseases or to receive prompt medical attention if you have a tick bite, visit your local Velocity Care walk-in clinic. At Velocity Care, we’ll provide a quick diagnosis and treatment for all your health care concerns, and our friendly and professional staff is always happy to help keep you and your family safe and healthy.
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