St. Joseph Co. Health Dept. warns of ticks this summer - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

St. Joseph Co. Health Dept. warns of ticks this summer

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St. Joseph County Health Department wants people to stay safe from ticks carrying lyme disease. This summer, the health department has already seen a significant increase in confirmed cases of the disease.

For those planning on spending time outside, it's important to educate and follow some simple steps to help protect yourself against the disease.

Robin Meleski, Director of Health Education in the St. Joseph County Health Department said, "So really it's focusing on not going into tick infested areas-- so very tall grass, very bushy areas."

If you are going into an area that you suspect is tick infested, wear long pants, tucked inside socks. Also wear tennis shoes instead of flip flops and a lightweight long sleeve shirt.

According to the St. Joseph County Health Department, the risk of contracting the disease can also be minimized by:

  • Applying insect repellent containing DEET to exposed skin and to clothing
  • Applying permethrin to clothes and shoes (do not apply permethrin to skin)
  • Carefully following label directions when using any repellent
  • Checking your entire body for ticks immediately after leaving areas likely to have ticks, and take a hot shower as soon as possible. 
  • Ticks can hide in your clothes, so wash your clothing in hot water as well.

If you discover a tick attached to your skin, do not attempt to remove it by burning or applying an irritant as this may increase the chances of disease transmission and/or infection. Promptly remove the tick by grasping its head with tweezers and pulling straight out with a steady motion.  To prevent the possible passing of infection, ticks should not be removed with bare fingers.  Wash the bite area with warm soapy water and apply an antiseptic.  You may wish to save the tick in a jar for future reference should symptoms develop. 
 
Some symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • A persistent, slowly expanding blotchy red rash which is usually fainter at the center than at the edges (the "bullseye" appearance)
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint aches and swelling, especially in the knees
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Stiff neck or weakness of the facial muscles
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Dizziness; and an irregular heartbeat

One more thing to remember according to the department is that ticks can enter your home on pets, so check your pets often and remove ticks in the manner described above.

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