The incidence of tick-borne disease is on the rise in Ohio. Consequently, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health's Vector Control Program has begun monitoring diseases associated with ticks. The American Dog Tick, most prevalent in the Eastern half of the United States and the West Coast, is responsible for the transmission of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) .
Dogs, rodents, and other animals typically harbor the agent. In 80% of the cases, reddish-purple spots appear on the extremities and spread to the trunk, neck, and face. The American Dog Tick is not known to transmit Lyme Disease.
The adult Black Legged Tick, formerly called the Deer Tick, is approximately the size of a dog tick and is responsible for the transmission of Lyme Disease in the eastern United States. The preferred habitat for these ticks is woodlands. Some early symptoms of Lyme Disease include a bulls-eye rash, fatigue, headache, and muscle stiffness.
The severity of Lyme Disease symptoms varies greatly with the individual. Some patients develop only the rash, while a few experience recurrent, crippling arthritis. Still others may be bedridden with fatigue for long periods of time.
The organisms which cause Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease are transmitted in the saliva of the tick while it is feeding (24 hours). The long period between attachment and commencement of feeding is important to the prevention of infection. Early detection and prompt removal of the tick will help to prevent infection. There is no guarantee that a tick, even if infected, will transmit a disease.
Things to Remember...
Simple guidelines to prevent tick bites:
- Check your pets daily before they enter the house for the night. Purchase tick collars for pets and change them every three months.
- Remove piles of leaf litter, clear brush from around your house, and keep the grass mowed.
- Dress in light colored, long-sleeved garments. Spray insect repellent containing DEET on clothes and on exposed skin other than the face. Treat clothes (especially pants, socks, and shoes) with PERMETHRIN, which kills ticks on contact.
- When walking through brush, tuck pant legs into boots or socks and stay in the middle of the path to avoid contact with plants.
To remove a tick:
- Grasp the tick firmly by the head and as close to the skin as possible with tweezers. Hold the tweezers parallel to the skin to grasp the head. Gently pull the tick out until it releases its hold.
- Wash the site of the bite with soap and water and then apply an antiseptic.
- If a rash or flu-like symptoms develop following a tick bite, consult a physician immediately. Diagnosis for tick borne diseases is through clinical symptoms and blood testing.
- Save the tick for identification. Contact CCBH to discuss the potential for submittal to the Ohio Dept. of Health for tick identification.
It is also important to remember that there are 12 species of ticks known to reside in Ohio and only 2 are capable of transmitting disease.
Joe Lynch, RS, MPH
216-201-2000 ext. 1241