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KDHE provides tips to prevent tick-borne illnesses

Ticks are out. Those spending time outdoors might want to take precautions to avoid tick bites.

In 2014, there were 212 cases of tick-borne diseases reported in Kansas. Recorded cases included ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, rickettsiosis, also known as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and Lyme disease.

Of those cases, 75 patients were hospitalized.

Long sleeve shirts and pants are encouraged. Bright clothing can make ticks more visible.

When hiking, tucking in shirts and tucking long pants into socks and over-the-ankle shoes can keep ticks out.

Products containing permethrin can be applied to clothing and equipment but not directly to skin. Garments must be allowed to dry thoroughly before wearing.

Clothing and tents pre-treated with permethrin are available, and the protection can remain active through several washings. These products kill ticks rather than merely repelling them.

Insect repellent containing 20 to 30 percent DEET can be used on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours.

Other repellents registered by the Environmental Protection Agency can be found online at www.cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect

Ticks are usually found on low-lying vegetation.

KDHE recommends avoiding wooded areas with tall grass and leaf litter, walking in the center of trails, and checking every two hours for ticks.

The sooner a tick is removed, the less chance it will transmit a disease to its host.

Upon finding a tick, grasp it with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and slowly pull it out. Do not crush or puncture the tick and try to avoid touching the tick with bare hands.

Thoroughly disinfect the bite area and wash your hands immediately after removal.

Be sure to examine pets and gear, as ticks can ride into the home on animals, coats, backpacks, and blankets.

Symptoms of tick-borne disease can include any unusual rash and unexplained flu-like symptoms, including fever, severe headaches, body aches, and dizziness.

Prompt treatment with antibiotics can prevent serious illness or even death.

See your doctor immediately if you have been bitten by a tick and experience any of these symptoms.

For more information about tick-borne diseases, visit www.cdc.gov/ticks/resource/hunterfactsheet.pdf or www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases.

Last modified May 6, 2015

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