Tick season in Tennessee: What you need to know


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Warmer temperatures and summer vacation means more Middle Tennesseans will be spending time outdoors.

Ticks are also becoming more active. While most tick bites are harmless, tick-borne illnesses are a possibility.

Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt, said there are two tick-transmitted diseases to worry about.

“The tick-borne illnesses that we’re concerned about are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Although it has the Rocky Mountain name, that tick-borne illness can be acquired in Tennessee, and another one with a fancy name called ehrlichiosis,” said Dr. Schaffner.

Both Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and ehrlichiosis have similar symptoms.

“The most prominent symptom that almost everyone gets is fever,” Dr. Schaffner continued, “You can have some chills feeling poorly, muscle aches, and pains. And then sometimes you will get a rash, not invariable.”

It can take a few days for these symptoms to emerge. If you do get a tick bite, then pay attention and head to the doctor if you start to feel ill.

Dr. Schaffner also recommended a gentle touch when removing a tick, “The best way is to take a tissue, grasp the body of the tick firmly, and then gently pull the tick out. Don’t jerk it because you may pull the body off the head and leave the head of the tick embedded, which can cause inflammation and still transmit infection.”

Of course, the best thing you can do is not get bitten by a tick in the first place.

“Use tick repellent, and look on the canister and see that it does contain DEET. And then, once you have finished your activity, what you want to do is take a shower and inspect yourself to see that there’s no tick and get someone to help you,” Dr. Schaffner offered.

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