CLEVELAND — Right now, it's a busy time for camping and enjoying the outdoors but now that the warm weather has returned, officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources are warning ticks have returned as well.
Wildlife officials and the Ohio Department of Health are urging people to take precautions to prevent tick bites and the diseases they may carry. The danger could be as close as your own backyard.
These small brown bugs are a big problem. There are about a dozen species of ticks that have been identified in the state.
Doctor Alan Taege with the Cleveland Clinic says they're already seeing cases of people being bitten.
“There was just one yesterday. This just gentleman had the rash, but he also developed bell's palsy…the facial droop that can come along with Lyme disease,” Taege said.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by the bite of a tick.
Initial symptoms include a fever, chills and a headache. And if left untreated, there can be serious long-term side effects. Ticks can also carry a more rare disease called Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever that has a spotty rash.
“They typically have fever and people can become much more ill with those than you do with Lyme disease,” Taege said.
Ticks tend to crawl under clothing and attach in more secluded areas of the body, so be sure to check your hair, under your arms, on your back and even in your private areas.
“You rarely will feel the tick when they attach themselves because they're so small. You typically don't notice it because it doesn't cause symptoms when they first attach,” Taege said.
If you are bit, the faster you remove it, the better off you'll be.
“Ticks have to be attached up to 36 hours before you become infected with whichever bacteria they may be carrying,” Taege said.
When it comes to removal, the old wives' tale of a hot match or soapy water does not work.
Use tweezers, grabbing it as close to the skin as possible, pulling up and out without twisting, making sure to remove the head.
“Do not grab by the body or the tick and squeeze it, because that's a good way to cause the tick to regurgitate any bacteria they may be carrying into your system,” Taege said.
The best way to protect yourself is to wear light colors so ticks are easier to spot. And when outdoors, walk in the middle of trails, avoiding tall grass and brush.
“You should tuck in your pant legs into boots, shoes, whatever, or tie a band around them to make it tougher for them to get inside your clothing,” Taege said.
And lastly, always make sure to use a repellent, even if you're outside at home or in a garden.
“You can pick (ticks) up, not just camping, hiking and being out in areas like that, but in your own yard," Taege said.
CLICK HERE for some resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to prevent tick bites and what to do if you are bitten.
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