Recently scientists have determined that the Gulf Coast ticks have established themselves permanently in the Virginia Beach and Portsmouth areas. These ticks are slightly bigger than other ticks and have distinct patterns on their backs. In fact, some people may even consider them pretty. However, with a new type of tick, there are new tick related illnesses that you need to be aware of, and how to protect yourself from the ticks.
Watch Out for Tidewater Spotted Fever
Gulf Coast ticks are known carriers of rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis, which is a form of spotted fever. The first sign is a sore that develops around where the bite was. This is called an eschar, which is a type of dark scab. You may also develop a fever, muscle aches, a fever and a rash. This is a generally mild spotted fever and not as dangerous as the other spotted fevers, like Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Other Dangers from Tick Bites
Ticks are well-known carriers of diseases. In Virginia the blacklegged tick can transmit Lyme diseases which can lead to serious complications if not treated quickly. The bull’s eye rash is only found in 4 out of five cases. Other symptoms include muscle aches, a fever and bone and joint pain that will steadily get worse the longer you go without treatment. The American dog tick is also common in Virginia. This tick will transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever. This will usually start out as a headache with a fever and few days a spotted rash will appear on the ankles and wrists. This can be fatal and it is important to seek medical treatment if you feel you may have contracted it.
Protecting Yourself from Ticks
It is important to protect yourself from ticks to prevent yourself from contracting the serious illnesses that they cause. There are many steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.
- Wear bug spray—One of the best ways you can protect yourself is to use a bug spray that contains DEET. This is the most effective chemical that will stop ticks from biting you.
- Dress to protect yourself—When you are going into areas where ticks are more common (heavily wooded areas and fields with thick, tall grasses or bushes) be sure to wear long-sleeves and long pants. If you tuck your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants you can reduce the chance of tick finding a place to attach.
- Check yourself when you get home—Regularly checking for ticks can help you find the tick before it has a chance to attach or transmit the disease to you. You should also check your pets.
- Treat your yard for ticks—There are barrier treatments that can stop ticks from setting up home in your yard. This means you will not need to worry about taking those extra measures when you are just enjoying time outside in your backyard.