Tick season in full ‘bite’

Published 10:31 am Monday, June 28, 2010

Did you know that ticks are the leading carriers of diseases to humans in the United States, and second only to mosquitoes worldwide.

Hospitals in the local area are reporting seeing patients showing symptoms of tick-born diseases, and summertime has yet to arrive.

There are more than 800 varieties of ticks throughout the world and northeast North Carolina is home to many of them. Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI) are three tick-born diseases that are prevalent in this area.

Since tick season is already in full swing, you should take precautions to prevent bites.

Avoid grassy areas and shrubs where ticks may be lying in wait to hitch a ride on a potential “meal”. Promptly check yourself, others and pets if exposed to such areas.

Wear light colored clothing so ticks can be easily seen and brushed off. Tuck pants into boots or socks to prevent ticks from hiding on your person.

Apply insect repellant, specifically brands designed to repel ticks. Make sure to treat pets also. Avoid use of DEET-containing repellants on children.

Tick bites are generally painless and frequently do not cause symptoms until after the tick has dropped off. The illnesses caused by tick bites often begin days to weeks after the bite. Even if you do not remember a tick bite, but have been in a tick-infested area, but sure to seek medical attention and alert your physician if you have any of the following symptoms that can indicate a tick-related illness.

Flu-like symptoms






Pain and swelling in joints

Palpitations and/or shortness of breath

Nausea and vomiting

To remove a tick yourself, use a small pair of tweezers or forceps and wear hand protection to avoid spreading the pathogens from the tick. Carefully flip the tick over onto its back and pull gently until it comes free. Try not to twist or turn the tick because such actions may cause the head and mouthparts to break off increasing the chance of infection. Once the tick is removed, flush it down a commode or save it in a jar to show the doctor if you become ill. Cleanse the bite area with soap and water and apply an antibiotic cream. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling the tick or any instruments that touched the tick.

In certain situations you may need to seek immediate medical care for a tick bite. For example if the person bitten by the tick is weak, lethargic, confused, feverish or has any numbness, headache or rash, you should immediately take them to see a physician. Also seek medical care if the tick cannot be removed from the skin or if the head and mouthparts remain after removal.

The staff and providers at Bertie Memorial Hospital encourage you to stay safe and healthy while you enjoy the beautiful Bertie County rivers, streams and forests this summer. If you need medical attention resulting from a tick bite please call Cashie Medical Center (794-6775) for an appointment or go to the Bertie Memorial Hospital Emergency Department for immediate needs. Medical personnel there will assess the tick bite, your symptoms and develop a treatment plan to get you back outdoors.

Bertie Memorial Hospital is a subsidiary of East Carolina Health, part of University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina.