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Tips for ticks: preventive measures and what to look for

Ticks are most active from April through July ,according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Ticks can be active when the ground temperature is 45 degrees and above, and with the warmer weather earlier this year mid-Missouri, ticks are becoming active sooner.

Ticks do not affect only animals. In the United States, ticks are responsible for more human disease than any other insect, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

The most common tick-borne illnesses in Missouri are Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, tularemia, Q-fever and Lyme and Lyme-like disease.

MDHSS reports show that there have been at least eight reported cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the state so far this year.

In 2009, MDHSS and the CDC discovered a new virus in Missouri linked to tick bites called the heartland virus. The virus is linked to the most common tick found in Missouri, which is the Lone Star tick.

Some ways to prevent tick bites are to stay in the center of a trail in thick brush or wooded areas, applying insect repellent that contains DEET, wearing long sleeves and pants and wearing light-colored clothing.

If you find a tick on your body, remove it as quickly as possible to prevent the risk of disease. To properly remove a tick, use tweezers or a tick-removal kit and make sure the head of the insect is fully out of the skin, then disinfect the skin.

For more information about properly removing ticks, visit the MDHSS website.

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