Many More Tick-Borne Illnesses This Year Than Last

AP

NASHVILLE (AP) – The payback for this year's mild winter and early spring appears to be more insect-borne disease.

According to WPLN-FM in Nashville, the Tennessee Department of Health reports more known cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever through July 14 than were recorded in all of last year. The department has confirmed 304 cases statewide. In 2011, there were 255 known cases.

Doctors at Vanderbilt University's Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital said tick bites are posing a significant threat to children this year.

Dr. Buddy Creech, assistant professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt, said it is important for parents to check their children each day for ticks.

"We have a very low threshold for treating tick-borne illnesses in the summertime," Creech said. "Children can get sick pretty quickly from diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichiosis, and they can even get meningitis from these bacteria."

If a tick is engorged, doctors said it's important to remove it immediately from the skin, including all of the insect's parts, to avoid inflammation and infection.

Health officials suggest wearing light-colored clothes to make it easier to spot crawling ticks. Use insect repellents that contain DEET on skin and permethrin on clothing and shoes.

Information from: WPLN-FM, www.wpln.org

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