CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Each year, thousands of people in North Carolina come down with tick-borne illnesses.
The state has more case of
Rocky Mountain spotted fever
than anywhere in the country.
, which was almost unheard of in North Carolina just a few years ago, is a problem, too.
It takes only one bite from a tick to make you sick. So as you spend more time outdoors during the warmer months, there is even more reason to be on the lookout for ticks.
Ellen Caston learned that lesson two summers ago when she had Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
"It was a pretty big surprise. I had no idea that was what was wrong," she said.
officials warn ticks
are already out in full force. So are concerns about tick-borne illnesses.
As bad as ticks have been this season, be sure to check yourself every time you come indoors -- paying attention to hairy areas like the arms and head. Check for ticks every time -- no matter how long you have been outside.
Symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever are vague at first and include fever, headache and body aches.
People with Lyme disease usually have a bull's-eye-shaped rash. Other symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle ache and joint pain.
"I had really achy muscles and I was hurting a lot," Caston said.
Thanks to antibiotics, Caston made a full recovery. She and her husband use repellent and spray their yard to avoid future tick bites.
If you are bitten by a tick, save it and make a note of day so you know when to look for symptoms.
Symptoms for Rocky Mountain spotted fever usually appear within 2 to 5 days. For Lyme disease, symptoms typically appear within 7 to 10 days.
Caston had no idea she had been bitten until she got sick.
Certain plants in your yard may actually increase the likelihood you will find a tick.
Fruit trees attract deer that can carry ticks into your yard. Deer like flowers too, including roses, lilacs and forsythia.
It is also important to keep grass cut short.