ADPH warns of tick-borne diseases this fall

Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 9:23 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2022 at 11:08 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Many Alabamians will go outside to hunt or pick pumpkins this fall, but before coming back inside they should make sure they are not carrying any unwanted pests.

Tick-borne diseases are typically rare in Alabama, but Dr. Wes Stubblefield with the Alabama Department of Public Health stressed they still cause serious problems.

“If you’ve notice that you had developed a fever and a rash, those are concerning symptoms and you need to seek medical attention,” Stubblefield said.

In 2021, spotted fever rickettsiosis was by far the most common tick-borne disease in Alabama. The use Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the most severe illness within this group is the Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

“Although the name suggests Rocky Mountains, it’s relatively more common in Southeast,” Stubblefield said.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever can cause rash, fever, headache, nausea and more.

There were also more than 50 cases of Lyme disease in Alabama last year. Those with Lyme disease typically develop a target-like rash that gradually grows.

ADPH recommends people wear bug repellent and regularly check their bodies for ticks. Parents should also thoroughly search their kids.

“You go through their hair, you look at the neckline, you really need a good, unclothed exam to make sure that they don’t see a tick attached,” he said.

The doctor said best way to remove a tick is slowly tweezers. He does not recommend burning it off or painting it with fingernail polish.

“You don’t want to tick to, and I know this is gross, but essentially to get its stomach contents into the wound,” Stubblefield said.

The goal is not to disturb the tick too much. After removing it, individuals should wash the area well with soap.

People should also check their pets for ticks. They can find tick preventative products by talking with a vet.

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