Its tick season in Oklahoma

Friday, May 31st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Because the weather is getting warmer, more folks will spend time outdoors, so here's a warning. Ticks are thicker than usual, and as News on Six medical reporter Tami Marler explains, they can cause a number of potentially deadly illnesses.

When 8-year-old Austin isn't writing scripts for movies, he's doing what most kids his age enjoy. "Ride my bike and play around with my cousins and play some games and play around in our new sprinkler." That means lots of time outdoors among mosquitoes, ticks and other creepy crawlers. So mom brings along the bug guard. "Well anytime we're out around trees or grass or anything. Why, because they bite and they itch and they keep you up all night."

Ticks can also cause serious illnesses, like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Erlichiosis. Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of tick borne disease. This time of year, it's the worst. "We begin traditionally to see reported cases in about May here, and we're beginning to see cases this year." Connie Bourne says St. Francis' epidemiology department is seeing more than twice as many cases of tick borne illness this year than last, and not all of them can be tied to a tick bite. "You may not recall a tick attachment, the incubation period for Erlichiosis can run from 1 to 3 weeks; for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, anywhere from about 5 to 14 days."

That's why it's so important to recognize symptoms, like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and fever. It may feel like the flu, but it's not flu season. "Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever should be something that is foremost in someone's mind in Oklahoma this time of year."

Cathy Boyd checks Austin's entire body for what may look like new freckles, every time he plays outdoors. "She looks around and checks 'em, and just in case, she puts bug spray on my legs and stuff." So her active boy will have a healthy summer.

If you happen to find a tick on you. Use tweezers or fingers covered with tissue to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Don't twist or jerk. Just use steady, gentle pressure. Be sure to thoroughly wash anything that came into contact with the tick.

Health experts recommend you save the tick in a plastic baggy, just in case you need to show your doctor.