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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — While summer is starting to wind down, that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down when it comes to ticks. In fact, experts are reminding everyone that ticks are still out in full force.
A daily tick check is routine for the Solin-Valdina family. Leto, 6, was treated for Lyme disease two years ago. His mom found a tick on him, and fever and the “bullseye” rash followed.
Dr. Peter Hotez says preventing tick bites is critical, especially in the spring, summer and early fall when ticks are most active.
“We have seen a general increase in the number of tick-borne diseases over the last five or six years. But it’s not only Lyme disease; we are seeing the emergence of some new tick-borne diseases,” said Dr. Hotez, a pediatrician from Baylor College of Medicine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says almost all cases of Lyme disease occur in Pennsylvania and 13 other states in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and upper Midwest.
The tick that transmits Lyme also can spread babesiosis and anaplasmosis.
There’s also a tick that transmits Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, more than 60 percent of those cases happen in North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
“Sometimes the symptoms are not specific. You can have fever, headache, rash,” said Dr. Hotez.
Dr. Dyan Hes says the best protection is to use insect repellent with more than 20 percent DEET, and wear the right clothing in tall grasses.
“Long pants tucked into their socks and their shoes,” said pediatrician Dr. Hes. “You have to check your children or spouse or friend for ticks in every crevice.”
Leto’s Lyme disease was treated with antibiotics, and today, he’s happy and healthy.
Experts say if you spot a tick on your body, it’s critical to remove it the right way, as soon as possible. You can find tips on how to properly remove ticks on the CDC’s website.