Tick season in Oklahoma and what to do to protect yourself

Monday, June 16th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

It's summer time and many of us will be spending a lot more time outdoors. But it's also tick season and time to watch out for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Oklahoma ranks second for the most cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever behind North Carolina. There are generally about 55 cases a year in Tulsa County; so far two have been reported.

The disease is transmitted by bacteria called Rickettsia, which is carried by the female American dog tick. Health officials say hikers; campers and hunters who spend a great deal of time in wooded areas typically are the ones who get the disease. Dogs, rodents and other animals are also susceptible.

Symptoms can develop within three to 14 days after someone has been bitten. Renee Powell with the Tulsa City-County Health Department, "generally will start with the worst headache you every had, high fever-trunk of the body."

The best thing to do is to wear long sleeves, long pants and wear thick socks and tennis shoes. And tuck you pants into your socks if you can. You can use a tick repellent, preferably one with deet. Permethrin is a tick repellent for your clothes.

And check you hairline, waistline and your armpits, because ticks like to gravitate in those warm places. If you do have to remove a tick, use tweezers. Don't squeeze it because the bacteria are in the female's mouth and you can squeeze it into your skin.