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ER visits up due to tick bites; health professionals advise prevention measures to avoid tick-borne diseases


Ticks are nothing new to Missouri but this summer, health care and emergency room workers say they are seeing more people come in from bites.

MU Emergency Physician Dr. Christopher Sampson says that Ehrlichiosis is the most common tick-borne disease in Missouri but the state is also seeing a rise in other tick-borne viruses.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of emergency room visits due to tick bites in the Midwest is a lot higher this year than in past years. The data shows that for the Midwest, the 6-year average ER visits for May is 116. But last month, it reported an average of 138 ER visits.

Sampson says tick-borne diseases start to spread in the body after a tick has been latched onto the skin for 24 to 48 hours. He says prevention is the best way to avoid tick-borne diseases.

"Once you're home," Dr. Sampson says, "it's doing a tick check, checking your children especially." He says to especially check body parts where ticks can easily hide, like the scalp, waistline, and behind the knees.

CDC Statistics show that children up to 9-years-old are most likely to visit the ER for a tick bite than any other age group. In the Midwest, that young age group has a tick-related ER-visit rate of 75 per every 100,000 ER visits. That rate significantly drops for children ages 10 to19, with an average of 34 per every 100,000 ER visits.

Morgan Davison, a mom who took her two toddlers to Cosmo Park, says its important for parents to take precautions to keep their children and pets safe. She says after a fun day at the park, "I make sure we're checking underarms and pants-lines to make sure my kids are safe."

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says that symptoms of tick-borne diseases vary depending on the individual or the infection. It says in general, if you develop a sudden high fever, nausea, or muscle soreness, you should seek medical attention.

MU Physician Dr. Sampson says if you see a tick, one of the most important things is to make sure you remove the entire tick. To learn how to remove a tick safely, visit the CDC website for a step-by-step guide.

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Sarah Higgins


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