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Health Department Issues Tick Warning

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina public health officials on Tuesday issued a warning about

tick-borne illness.

"Last year, we experienced a record number of

Rocky Mountain spotted fever


Lyme disease

cases," said Dr. Jean-Marie Maillard, of the

North Carolina General Communicable Disease Control Branch.

"In 2003, the 157 reported cases of Lyme disease were more than twice the average reported annually between 1991 and 2000 and almost four times as many as the number of cases reported in 2001.

"The 331 cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever reported in 2003 were 2.7 times the average number of cases reported during the decade between 1991 and 2000. People need to be on the lookout for ticks. Perform at least a daily tick check on yourself and your children, more often if possible. Early removal of ticks can reduce your chance of infection."

Dr. Nolan Newton, who is chief of the Public Health Pest Management Section, said that grassy and wooded areas are particularly likely to be tick habitat.

"If you are going to walk in grass or forest, then you should wear long pants with your pants legs tucked into the top of your socks," Newton said. "You also should tuck your shirt tails into your pants so that ticks have a long way to climb before finding skin to attach to, and you should use an insect repellant that contains


or permethrin, according to the directions on the product label."

Tick bites also can cause ehrlichiosis in dogs.

Other tips for reducing tick habitat:

  • Mow the lawn often to keep grass short. Clear brush and leaf litter under trees, and keep the ground under bird feeders clean.
  • Keep playground equipment away from yard edges and trees.
  • Application of pesticides, which can be effective in controlling ticks, always should be done strictly according to the label on the pesticide container.
  • Remove plants that attract deer, and construct physical barriers to discourage tick-infested deer from coming near homes.
  • Remove attached ticks with tweezers, grasping the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pulling upward with steady, even pressure.
  • Do not twist or jerk the tick; this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin.
  • Do not squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Make a note of the date you removed the tick and save it for identification in case you become ill. This may help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.
  • Place the tick in a plastic bag and put it in your freezer or drop it in a small container of alcohol.
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