Mild winter bringing ticks out earlier

Mild winter bringing ticks out earlier
Warmer temperatures mean an increased likelihood of getting a tick bite, and those bites can bring along diseases. (Photo: Pexels.com)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The warm spring may be drawing kids and pets outside more, leading to early contact with ticks. Ticks are known to carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Norton Children’s Hospital says the Kentucky Division of Epidemiology and Health Planning, is reporting the tick population isn’t necessarily higher, but the mild winter is bringing them out earlier than normal.

Ticks are all different sizes, so giving your child and yourself a good once-over at the end of the day outside is important. Norton Children's Hospital says most ticks can be seen relatively easily, but they do like to hide on the scalp under hair and warmer areas such as armpits. Dr. Libby Mims, pediatrican with Norton Children's Medical Associates - Shepherdsville advises looking for black bumps on the skin and scalp.

If you spot a tick, use the tried-and-true method to remove it.

"Home remedies are not recommended," Dr. Mims said. "The old wives' tales of using petroleum jelly, dish soap and other strategies are not as effective and can cause skin irritation."

Here is what you should do if you have a tick bite:

-Get the tweezers as close to the head of the tick as possible.

-Pull directly up and away from the skin to remove the tick.

-If you have a tight hold of it, it should come out intact, including the head.

-Do not pull the body of the tick, because squeezing the body can allow the tick to regurgitate the contents back into the bite, possibly causing infection. It also increases the chance the head will detach and stay embedded in the skin.

If sections of the mouth parts of the tick remain in the skin, they should be left alone. They normally will be expelled naturally. Wash the affected area with warm soap and water once you have removed the tick. Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

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In rare cases, swelling and redness may develop at the site of the bite — a sign there could be an infection. If that happens, see your physician for possible treatment, which may include an antibiotic.

"If further symptoms develop, such as fever, body aches, headache or rash — specifically a bull's eye-shaped rash around the bite — seek immediate medical treatment," Dr. Mims said. "These may be symptoms of Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever."

Lyme disease is rare in our area, but the risk for Rocky Mountain spotted fever is higher.

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