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Health Team

Dog ticks pose greatest disease threat in NC

Posted July 9, 2013

— Spending more time outdoors this summer increases the risk of bringing ticks home with you. Only a small percentage of the tiny bugs carry organisms that lead to disease, but in North Carolina, the dog tick poses a serious risk of spreading Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which can be fatal.

It takes 24 to 48 hours after the tick has attached to the body for it to transmit disease, so it's important to search for them after being outdoors, especially in tall grass or wooded areas.

Dog ticks can be as small as a poppy seed.     

"They're hard to spot, and it helps if you have light clothes and you search for them carefully," said Dr. David Weber, an infectious disease expert at UNC Hospitals. "Specific spots you want to look are under the arms, around the groin, along the hair lines, in the hair. Both feel for them and look for them."

Dr. Mask warns of ticks' dangers Dr. Mask: Tips to keep safe from ticks

If you find a tick, pull it off gently and flush it down the toilet. If it's already attached, use tweezers – not your fingers.

If you develop a rash at the bite site or other symptoms, see a doctor. 

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can cause headache, fever, rash, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

9 Comments

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  • usahollister Jul 19, 11:38 a.m.

    My sister had RMSF when she was in the fourth grade. She was miserable and missed a lot of school.

    anonymous99; I still bag any ticks I find and hold them for three days. This is the first time I have ever read about flushing them.

  • lancenarron Jul 16, 8:20 a.m.

    I have had Rocky Mountain spotted fever! I would rather be rolled down a Rocky Mountain than feel like I did when I was sick LoL !! Bad Stuff

  • anonymous99 Jul 11, 12:48 p.m.

    It was my understanding you should keep the tick in a plastic bag (labeled with the date), so it can be tested if you exhibit symptoms. Is that not the case?

  • NCishome Jul 11, 9:47 a.m.

    I got my tick twister at the pet store. Works very well on humans and the dogs. I have had Rocky Mt. Spotted fever...the pain and temp. Would not wish that on anyone.

  • djofraleigh Jul 11, 8:35 a.m.

    My daughter had Rocky Mt. Spotted fever...very sick, weak. I have two friends with Lyme disease which is proving life long devastation and another friend on Rx for tick-type symptoms right now. NC, Tenn, Arkansas, Missouri, OK are hot spots for Rocky Mt Fever. Timely warning provided by this article.

  • ekuman Jul 10, 7:00 p.m.

    I agree with White Eagle - that tick in the picture looks like a Lone Star tick.

  • courseyoucan Jul 10, 5:37 p.m.

    The best way to remove ticks is with the use of a product called "Tick Twister". I bought mine online. Ticks can hold tenaciously to the skin. Sometimes when you pull them off, the head of the tick remains embedded, which is more likely to lead to disease. However, they lack musculature about the mouth parts to resist a twisting motion. The Tick Twister solves that problem.

  • White Eagle Jul 10, 2:02 p.m.

    I may be wrong but the tick in the picture sure looks like a Lone Star tick, not a dog tick. Article title should have left off the word "dog." Regardless, ticks are nasty and deer ticks are so tiny they are nearly impossible to find. Glad I'm bald!

  • rbw1226 Jul 9, 6:06 p.m.

    The one symptom I remember most is pain, very severe pain. I don't remember any nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. But with the pain I had severe chills, high fever, and headache and curled tight into the fetus position. It was like every cell was burning pain but at same time the chills made me feel very cold.