Summer is here and so are ticks!

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Summer has only just unofficially begun, but tick season is already well underway. While you can find ticks year-round, the summer push to get outside means this is when we see the bloodsuckers more often. That can be worrisome because ticks can carry serious diseases.

“Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, there is tularemia,” said Dr. Deanna Bajala, a Family Medicine physician with SSM Health Medical Group.

Lone star ticks, American dog ticks, and deer ticks are common in both Missouri and Illinois. If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, be ready.

“Make sure you are wearing long sleeves, long pant legs, and long socks. You’ll actually tuck the pant legs into the socks,” Bajala said. “Make sure you are wearing your hair up if you have long hair. And use an EPA registered insect repellent.”

When you come inside, get do a thorough tick check. If you find one, remove it.

“Get some sort of tweezers,” she said. “You want to grab as close to the head as possible, try not to squeeze, and just pull it directly out.”

Watch for any side effects. That’s when you’ll need to see a doctor.

“They’ll come in with some sort of rash. They might come in with fever or chills or headaches,” she said.

But what about your pet? The Humane Society of Missouri often sees dogs and cats covered in these bloodsuckers and anemia and tick-borne illness is a big concern.

“Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlichiosis are much more prevalent in Missouri and they can really affect pets. There’s an emerging tick-borne disease in cats call bobcat fever,” said Dr. Travis Arndt, medical director of the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America.

Dogs and cats have a lot of fur but you should give them a thorough check after a prolonged period of time outside.

“Ticks really like to attach inside the pets’ ear. So really try to look in there. There isn’t as much hair in there. Also, look on the inside of their rear legs,” Dr. Arndt said.

The best thing to do to help your best friend is to make sure they are on a tick preventative medicine.

“There’s an external preventative. It’s a topical you apply on their coat, on their neck and between their shoulder blades. Or there’s the oral products which can last anywhere from one to three months.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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