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Doctors talk tick season, illnesses to watch out for

It’s tick season again in Mid-Missouri.

Before you get your first bite of the year, ABC 17 News talked to a doctor who has already treated several tick bites this spring to find out what illnesses to be on the lookout for.

Dr. Jason Zerrer at Providence Urgent Care said the amount of tick bites he’s seen so far is about on par with the average amount for this time of year.

The good news? There haven’t been many tickborne illnesses from those bites.

“The vast majority of tick bites are just inflammatory irritation without illness that can be treated with a topical Benadryl,” Dr. Zerrer said.

He explained that it is because it may take longer than you’d expect for the tick to pass along that illness.

“It takes at least six hours embedded in you for that tick to transmit anything it has in it,” he said.

But if you don’t catch the tick quickly enough, you may be at risk for Erlichiosis.

“The biggest thing we worry about in Boone County is Erlichiosis because many of our ticks carry it. That causes symptoms similar to the flu: a fever, headache and body aches,” Zerrer said.

Erlichiosis is treated with a medicine used in all tick bites and usually gets better right away.

Zerrer said he has never treated anyone with Lyme disease that got it from a tick in Mid-Missouri.

He recommends removing clothes before you get inside and putting them directly in the wash, and then checking your body for ticks. If you do have one, he says to use a tweezers and slowly pull the whole thing out.

“Make sure not to leave behind the head because if you agitate it, it will regurgitate what it is carrying into you and the risk of infection increases quicker,” he explained.

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