A mild Winter is causing a butterfly effect as Northwest Arkansas stretches into Summer. You may have noticed, we didn’t get a hard freeze this year. That means our tick population is on the rise and so are the tick borne diseases they carry.
The Arkansas Department of Health says in Arkansas, ticks are responsible for more human disease than any other insect, but not all ticks transmit disease.
Over the last few years, the number of total cases is on the rise. Usually we get a freeze and it kills some mosquitos and ticks, but this winter, we did not get a freeze hard enough. Lyme Disease is probably the most heard about, but ADH says ticks in the state do not currently transmit Lyme Disease. They do however transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, and Tularemia. (You can see a current listing of how many people in Arkansas contracted tick borne illnesses so far this year here.)
Most common symptoms of tick related illnesses are fever, chills, aches and pains, and rash. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in particular is associated with a distinctive rash. Severity of tick borne illnesses varies, some can be treated at home, others require hospitalization.
Ticks should be removed as quickly as possible. The Arkansas Department of Health says this is important because diseases do not transmit until the tick has been attached for several hours.
ADH suggests using clean, fine tipped tweezers to grab the tick off skin and pulling upward in a steady motion.
The department says don’t use home remedies like nail polish, petroleum jelly, using heat, or just waiting for the tick to go. Those could leave the tick intact allowing it to transmit disease.