This week, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) released reports of a possible case of Bourbon virus that is believed to be transmitted by a tick. Given this report, as well as the recent discovery of several other new diseases that can be spread by ticks, and predictions that the number of ticks in Missouri this summer will be higher than usual, the Jefferson County Health Department would like to remind everyone of the importance of safe and effective tick and mosquito protection. This can be as simple as taking two minutes to make sure:
1. You are wearing clothing that will protect you from being bitten.
· Choose long sleeves and long pants when spending time outdoors, weather permitting.
· Wear light colored clothing to help you spot ticks faster!
2. Apply insect repellent to any exposed skin.
· Look for products that contain at least 20% DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 to keep ticks away.
· Choose a product that lasts several hours whenever you spend time outdoors. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age.
· If you are also using sunscreen, apply it first, let it dry, and then apply repellent. Products that contain both sunscreen and repellent are not recommended
· And always read the label directions carefully!
3. Check your clothing and skin for ticks frequently, even while you are outside.
· After returning inside, shower as soon as possible and check all parts of the body carefully.
· Having a partner or parent check hard to see or private areas is encouraged. However, self-checks can be conducted safely and thoroughly using a mirror in a well-lit area.
· Remove attached ticks as soon as possible!
· This should be done by using tweezers or a tick removal tool to grip the tick as close to the skin as possible and pulling directly up and away from the skin.
· Other methods of tick removal designed to make the tick detach on its own such as covering it in nail polish or burning the back of the tick with a match can increase the risk of disease transmission and should NOT be used.
4. For more information about ticks, visit https://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/communicable/tickscarrydisease/index.php
However, if you or a loved one is bitten by a tick it is important to report any symptom associated with a tick transmitted disease to a medical professional as early as possible. Often, the symptoms of tick transmitted disease are first noticed two to three weeks after being bitten and including sudden fever, body aches, and headache. If you have any of these symptoms after being bitten by a tick or mosquito, or even being in an area where you could have been, it is important to let your healthcare provider know that you may be at risk for tick transmitted disease. For more information about tick transmitted diseases visit: https://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/communicable/2minutedrill/
For health related question, call (636) 797-3737 ext-137 to speak with JCHD Communicable Disease Specialist, or ext-215 to speak with a JCHD Epidemiologist.