The rise of the ticks: Local experts share tips and advice on how to protect yourself

KANSAS (KSNT) – Break out the bug spray. It’s not only mosquitoes you should be worried about but also ticks.

Amanda Alessi, director of the Great Plains Nature Center, says ticks are being seen a lot earlier compared to other years.

“I think this summer is going to be bad,” she said.

As data shows, tick-borne illnesses are on the rise. Bring some caution for your time in the sun.

“If you think you’ve been out where you could have been exposed to ticks is to shower right away as soon as you can, and that will anything that’s not attached already will wash off and to do checks regularly,” Alessi said.

According to the CDC, tick-borne diseases have skyrocketed in the last two decades, rising from 12 cases in 2004 to 298 in 2018.

“I think there is better reporting. I think there’s more awareness of certain illnesses,” said Dr. Robert Wittler, director of Infectious Disease Division with KU School of Medicine Wichita.

Dr. Wittler says he saw a case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever this past month.

“It may go unnoticed because for all these illnesses, the longer the tick is on the greater the risk of transmission,” he said.

Dr. Wittler says it’s especially important to check for ticks with young kids.

“They may be out playing more in woods and grassy areas and other places, and then, they’re not necessarily seeing the tick or feeling it.”

And if you do find one, “Get a tweezer and pull sort of straight up from the skin as best as possible slowly don’t twist,” Dr. Whittler said.

“Then, you want to tape it to a piece of paper and write the date, and where you were and put that in the freezer — and that way, should you develop medical complications or concerns or questions later,” Alessi said. “You can then go back and check that tick.”

Prevention is the best tip though. Other tips, include covering your body with clothes when entering an area that may have ticks. Wearing light color clothes can help you spot ticks as well.

Dogs and other outdoor pets need to be checked for ticks as well.

For more information on ticks and tick-related prevention from the CDC, click here.

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