Tick Diseases in North Texas–What You Need to Know
Texas features numerous hiking trails, opportunities for camping and parks for families to enjoy. But along with this fun and educational times comes the likelihood that you or someone in your family, will suffer from a tick bite, giving the victim one of several diseases, including Lyme disease and Rock Mountain spotted fever, just to mention two.
While the diseases vary, the initial symptoms are similar to and mimic the flu: fever, headache, fatigue, stiff neck, muscle aches and joint pain. Occasionally, a rash is present at the site of the bite. If you develop any of these symptoms and have been in situations where ticks are potentially present, see a physician immediately. With early medical attention, these diseases can almost always be treated; if not, the illnesses can be serious, even fatal.
Illnesses to Watch For
By far, the most common type of tick is the Lone Star Tick, which is about the size of a watermelon seed. The female is identifiable by a single white spot on her back, the male has white markings around the perimeter of his back.
In Texas, the most frequently diagnosed tick-borne illness is Lyme Disease, a bacterial infection identified by skin, joint, heart and problems with the central nervous system. It’s typically characterized by a “bull’s-eye” rash and about seven to 14 days later, the appearance of its symptoms: fatigue, headache, fever, stiff neck and joint pain.
Even tick removal isn’t simple. If crushed with the fingers, the bacteria can penetrate the skin or come into contact with mucous membranes.
Tick Diseases – Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
After a tick bite, the incubation for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is between three and 14 days, and symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, headache, chills and muscle aches. A rash frequently appears a few days later. Without prompt medical attention, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be fatal.
Tularemia can be spread via a tick or contact with blood or tissue from infected animals, or from eating under cooked meat from infected animals. Symptoms include: ulcerated skin at the bite site, and painful, swollen lymph glands. If ingested, symptoms include: throat infection, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.
Although rare, Texans should also be aware of ehrlichiosis. Symptoms appear after about 12 days. Symptoms include a sudden onset of illness with fever, chills, headache and lethargy.
Precautions to avoid ticks:
If you are in an area potentially-tick infested area, check your body every few hours.
Stay on marked trails.
Wear a hat, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants tucked into boots.
Use insect repellent containing DEET or permethrin applied to clothing. And make sure to follow label directions.
Frequently check pets for ticks and remove them immediately.