Growing concern for tick-borne illnesses in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Summer is a good time for ticks, and the Tennessee Department of Health says tick-borne illnesses are a growing concern across the state.

Flea populations have increased over the past few decades, meaning that certain flea-borne illnesses are becoming more common.

Several species of ticks inhabit the tall lawns and shrubs of Middle Tennessee, and some of these ticks carry diseases that can make Middle Tennessee sick. Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt, said Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is the most common tick-borne disease in Tennessee.

However, other diseases caused by fleas still exist, and some have become even more common.

“There is a disease called Ehrlichiosis, very similar to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. And with the spread of ticks across the United States, we’re even seeing some incursions of Lyme disease into Tennessee. We don’t have much of that. Dr. Schaffner said.

Symptoms of tick-borne illness can be severe, especially if you don’t get prompt treatment.

“You have a fever, aches, not feeling well, a headache, and sometimes a rash. Seek immediate medical attention. We have antibiotics that can treat these conditions and help you get better quickly. But early diagnosis is really important.”

The best thing you can do, Dr. Schaffner adds, is to avoid tick bites altogether.

“It is important to use insect repellent containing DEET if you are going outside even into your backyard, a good tick repellent. And then when you’re back inside, check in with yourself to make sure that despite everything, you haven’t caught a single seal sitting there. “

And if you have ticks, Dr. Schaffner recommends careful removal.

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“The approved way to get rid of a tick if you see it embedded is to take a tissue and hold the tick firmly down to your skin. And then pull gently perpendicular to the skin. Do not hide, because you can leave the head of the tick. So just pull perpendicularly gently. And that works very, very well. ”

Also, be sure to check your pet for ticks if they spend a lot of time outdoors. Growing concern for tick-borne illnesses in Tennessee

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