Tick season is underway a little earlier than usual this year after a stretch of unseasonably warm weather. Deputy state epidemiologist Ann Garvey, says recent colder weather hasn’t killed off the ticks, just slowed them a little. So, if you are going into woody or grassy areas, dress appropriately.
“It’s important to wear long sleeves or pants, use repellent that contain DEET, that’s effective against ticks,” Garvey says. “And make sure that you are conducting pretty regular tick checks after you come indoors from those types of environments. So, check yourself, your children and your pets.”
Ticks tend to prefer the back of the knee, armpit, scalp, groin, and back of the neck. Garvey says ticks are small and can be hard to spot in your hair.
“Check real carefully, and if you do find a tick, the best way to remove it is using a pair of tweezers. Grasp around the mouth parts of the tick and pull back real gently and then was that site with soap and water,” Garvey says. She says ticks can spread disease through their bite.
“In Iowa, the most commonly reported disease that we see is Lyme disease. We usually have between 80 and 100 cases each year,” Garvey explains. Not everyone who gets Lyme disease will have the same symptoms, but the best and earliest sign of infection is a rash that may appear within a few days to a month, usually at the site of the tick bite.
The rash will first look like a small, red bump, then expand until it begins to look like a bull’s eye, with a red center and a red ring surrounding a clear area. Garvey says it’s important to contact your healthcare provider immediately if you develop this type of rash. For more information on Lyme disease visit: www.idph.state.ia.us