Tick Borne Illnesses on rise in county

Any tick bite can cause redness and swelling, not to be confused with the bulls-eye rash of Lyme disease.

By Marie Lasater


Staff Writer

There have been 44 confirmed cases of tick-borne illness in Texas County since the first of the year, with 2 new cases just this week. Despite a somewhat common assumption that Lyme disease is on the rampage, there have been zero cases of Lyme disease recently. Only one case of Lyme disease has ever been reported in our county, and that was back in the year 2000. There have been 35 confirmed case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and 9 cases of Ehrlichiosis confirmed in Texas County this year.

A simple blood test, commonly called a “tick panel,” can determine the presence of a variety of diseases that you can contract from a tick bite, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Tularemia, Relapsing fever, and Colorado tick fever. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is one of several diseases caused by a type of bacteria called rickettsia.

Everyone is familiar with the bulls-eye rash associated with Lyme disease. Any tick bite can cause something similar to a bulls-eye rash due to an area of redness and swelling surrounding the bite, but again, Lyme Disease is very rare in our area.

Other generic symptoms of a tick bite can include, but aren’t limited to, a mild fever, headache, chills, muscle and joint aches, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue, even confusion. With Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a rash can occur with blackened, crusty skin at the area of the bite.

It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to occur. If you have onset of symptoms within this time frame after getting a tick bite, be sure to see your health care provider and let them know you have been bitten by a tick. Even if you don’t remember a bite, it’s also important to let your doctor know if you’ve been in an area with a lot of ticks. Even a tiny seed tick can cause disease. Fortunately, early treatment with Doxycycline or Tetracycline will usually cure the disease, and shouldn’t be delayed waiting for laboratory results. That being said, pre-treatment with antibiotics is not effective in preventing a tick-borne illness. Because 24 to 48 hours of attachment to the host are required for infection to occur, the best prevention is early removal of the tick.

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