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This area of the country has more than its fair share of ticks, and many of those ticks carry diseases that can be passed to humans.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, tularemia and anaplasmosis are the most common tick-borne diseases in this area of the country, but Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the one seen the most.

"As far as the conditions themselves, tularemia and ehrlichiosis are long-developing, chronic infectious diseases that can cause different symptoms but aren't going to kill you. Rocky Mountain spotted fever can become a medical emergency and is one that it's important to diagnose early and treat appropriately," said Dr. Joe Thompson, CEO and president of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is usually transmitted through the bite of the American dog tick. It can be tough to diagnose correctly and can be fatal if not treated properly. Symptoms can include fever, rash, headache, vomiting, nausea, stomach and muscle pain and lack of appetite.

There are steps people can take to prevent tick-borne illnesses.

"The number one thing is when people are going out into the woods, they should take precautions," Thompson said. "That means wearing appropriate clothing and using tick repellent. The number two thing they can do is look over their bodies after they come out of the woods. If you have ticks, the best prevention is to get rid of them as quickly as possible. If someone is bitten they don't have to necessarily worry about it, but if by a week later they have a headache and high fever, they need to go get checked and tell the clinician what symptoms they're having and that they have a history of tick bites."

 

Information on preventing tick bites from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

— Ticks live in grassy, brushy or wooded areas. Take extra precautions when spending time where ticks live.

— Spray clothing and gear with products containing permethrin.

— Check clothing for ticks.

— Shower soon after being outdoors.

— Check under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, in and around the hair, around the waist and between the legs after coming in from outdoors.

— Remove a tick as soon as it is found by grabbing it with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pulling it straight out.

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