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I'd like to check you for ticks

Been wondering or worrying about ticks? Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources has this ARTICLE about ticks in Ohio and how to dress to avoid tick bites. Did you know ticks can't fly or jump? They rest on the tips of grasses and shrubs, waiting for you to brush by.

By Karen Kier
Pharmacist on behalf of the ONU HealthWise team

Brad Paisley is an American singer-songwriter who is well known in country music circles. He has sold 11 million albums, won 3 Grammy awards, and has won 14 Academy of Country Music Awards. In 2001, he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry where he has performed over 40 times.  

Although he has numerous top 10 charting songs, one of his lesser known songs is titled Ticks. This song shows his sense of humor. In an interview, his wife stated his sense of humor is what won her over. Kimberly Williams-Paisley is a very talented actress and she and Brad celebrated 20 years of marriage in 2023.  

The inspiration for the Paisley song Ticks was from when he worked on a farm, which required him to check daily for ticks after working in the fields. In the 2007 song, he takes a sillier side of checking for ticks. In the song, he refers to it as a pickup line in a bar by stating, “I’d like to check you for ticks.”  

It is tick season and we need to be cautious since ticks can carry some serious diseases. Although Ohio is not in the top 10 states for the highest disease frequency from ticks, good statistics are hard to find due to the disruption of reporting during COVID-19. Ohio is adjacent to some of the top 10 states and the number of reported cases has been increasing.  

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) both provide excellent websites on how to manage ticks and tick bites. ODH provides the four critical steps in tick management including Protect, Check, Remove, and Watch.  ODH provides the resources for the Zoonotic Disease Program that responds and tracks tickborne illnesses in Ohio.  

The ODNR even provides information on how to send a tick in the mail to be analyzed and identified by your area health department. The site offers advice to place the live tick into a prescription bottle or film canister with a few blades of grass before mailing.  The site provides the necessary information to provide to the ODH before mailing in your tick!

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website provides an interactive site to find the right bug repellent for both ticks and mosquitoes. It is an interesting search with helpful advice.  The EPA site indicates several ingredients can protect against ticks including citronella, DEET, 2-undecanone, p-Methane-3,8-diol, and IR3535.  The EPA favors the IR3535 due to its effectiveness and improved safety profile.  IR3535 is the abbreviated name for the chemical ethyl butylacetylaminopropionate!  This ingredient is found in several Avon products recommended for bug protection from mosquitoes and ticks.  

The three ticks of concern in Ohio include the American dog tick (wood tick), the blacklegged tick (deer tick), and the lone star tick.  The American dog tick can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) while the blacklegged tick transmits Lyme disease.  

The lone star tick can transmit a small, gram-negative bacteria called Ehrlichia.  These bacteria can cause a flu-like syndrome up to 14 days after a tick bite. The symptoms can include headache, fever, and muscle aches with about 30% developing a rash. Although this condition is less common than RMSF or Lyme disease, it can be life-threatening if not treated with antibiotics. Another interesting fact about the lone star tick is it carries a molecule which causes alpha-gal syndrome. This syndrome results in a food allergy to red meat. There have been over 34,000 cases reported in the United States.  

It can be difficult to distinguish between RMSF and Lyme disease. Both can cause fever, chills, headache and fatigue. Lyme disease can produce a rash within days of the tick bite versus the RMSF rash which develops later in the second phase of the disease. The rash from Lyme disease is referred to as erythema migrans and occurs in about 70-80% of the cases. The rash appears between 3 to 30 days after the tick bite with an average around 7 days. The rash will often have a bull’s-eye appearance with red circled by pale skin. RMSF will have gastrointestinal symptoms, which is different from Lyme disease. 

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium known as Borrelia burgdorferi, which can infect humans as well as animals. The disease is very treatable with antibiotics if started early in the process. Some individuals will develop the Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS) which can occur weeks to months after treatment for Lyme disease. These symptoms occur without a current, active infection in the body. This often manifests with significant joint pain, tiredness, inability to sleep well, pain, and depression.   

Both RMSF and Lyme disease are easily treated with antibiotics if caught early.  Consider the important steps of preventing a tick bite by covering skin and wearing EPA recommended bug spray and checking for ticks. If a tick is found, remove it safely with tweezers and observe for potential symptoms of disease. Call your healthcare provider if you have concerns.  

In the words of Brad Paisley, check for ticks!

ONU HealthWise is offering bivalent mRNA COVID-19 vaccines Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please call the pharmacy for more information.  

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