Rise in Central Florida
It’s tick time again in Central Florida. The number of reported bites are ahead of last year at this time, the Seminole County Health Department is urging residents to take tick prevention measures when heading outdoors.
Just since January the state health department has reported 17 cases of tick-related diseases. Of those, five cases have been in Central Florida, said Greg Danyluk, epidemiologist for the Seminole County Health Department. Volusia has had two cases, and Brevard, Seminole and Lake counties have each reported one.
Ticks can transmit Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis.
“Reported numbers are only the tip of the iceberg,” said Danyluk. “The great majority of these diseases never get reported to the county.”
However, the increased number of tick visits to local emergency rooms and urgent care centers indicates that the season has started early, he said. “This is the time of year when two of the more serious tick species start emerging, namely the dog tick, and the black-legged tick.
To prevent tick-borne diseases, the county recommends the following precautions:
• Wear insect repellent. Environmental Protection Agency registered repellants containing 20% DEET provides some protection. Repellents with permethrin can be used on clothing, shoes, tents, and gear — but not skin. Talk to your vet about products that keep ticks off your pets.
• Dress so your skin is covered in white or light-colored clothing so you can see ticks easily on your clothes. Tuck pant legs into your socks.
• Walk in the center of the trail to avoid contact with tall grasses and other plants.
• Check your body, your child’s body and your pets for ticks after spending time where ticks are likely to be found. A careful tick check and early removal can prevent illness.
• Shower within two hours of coming indoors.
• Landscape your yard to reduce ticks. For ideas visit http://www.cdc.gov.
If you find a tick:
• Get a pair of fine-tipped tweezers.
• Grasp the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible.
• Pull upward with a steady, even motion without squeezing or crushing the tick.
• Clean area and your hands with soap and hot water.
“If you do get a tick bite, odds are good you won’t get sick,” said Danyluk. “Only 2-to-4 percent of ticks transmit disease.” However, if you get a fever or rash within a few days to a month of being bitten by a tick or after spending time in tick habitat, seek medical care right away and tell your health-care provider you may have had exposure to ticks.
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