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Ticks bother Nebraskans every spring and summer largely due to the increase in outdoor activities such as trail running, hiking, camping and Morel mushroom hunting that take place in prime tick habitat. Ticks are blood feeders and have the potential to cause some serious diseases in both people and pets. Ticks can be active all year round, but May and June are regarded as high tick season in Nebraska. Nebraska's Department of Health and Human Services receives reports of tick borne disease every year.
The American Dog Tick, also known as the Wood Tick, is the most common tick in Nebraska and is found throughout the state. The American Dog Tick can transmit Rickettsia a bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) and Francisella tularensis the agent responsible for Tularemia.
The symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are a dark rash and a fever appearing 5 to 10 days after a tick bite. It can lead to severe illness and hospitalization. RMSF can be cured with antibiotics, but only if treatment begins immediately. "Symptoms of RMSF are severe headache and high fever and a few days later a rash begins on the wrists and ankles," says Dr. Jill S. Reel, Pediatrician in the Blair Clinic.
The symptoms of Tularemia include high fever and/or skin ulcer at site of bite. An ulcer may be accompanied by swelling of regional lymph glands in armpit or groin. Tularemia can be treated with antibiotics in the first few days of symptoms.
The Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum) is a smaller tick found in southeastern Nebraska and can be a carrier of Ehrlichiosis (Ehrlichia chaffeensis). Symptoms generally appear five to 10 days after a tick bite and include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, nausea and occasionally a rash. If left untreated symptoms progress and may lead to hemorrhage of internal organs and renal failure.
Ticks have the ability to feed and remain embedded for several days (7–10) if undisturbed. The longer the tick remains attached, the more likely it will transmit pathogens, if infected. Scientists believe that no infection will occur if the tick is removed within 24 hours. "So after being outdoors check for ticks daily," Dr. Reel says.
Lyme disease is a rarity in Nebraska, and contracting the disease in Nebraska is highly unlikely. Most reported cases of Lyme occur when patients have been traveling in the northeast and upper Midwest, but cases have been reported all along the coastal areas of the United States.
If you have symptoms or concerns related to tick borne illness don't hesitate to make an appointment with your Healthcare provider.
|Annette Spooner, BSN, RN CIC
|Jill S. Reel, M.D.