Protecting yourself as cases of tick-borne illnesses have doubled in 15 years

BRAZOS COUNTY, Tex. (KBTX) - Protecting yourself from tick bites is crucial as families begin to spend more time outside this summer.

Female Lone Star Tick, Photo Date: 2006 / Photo: CDC / MGN

Mary Parrish from the Brazos County Health Department says the CDC reports cases of tick-borne illnesses doubling since 2004.

"Lyme disease, yes, but there are also all kinds of infections you can get from a tick," said Parrish.

And the bug is sneaky, too. It'll release a numbing toxin so that it can feed on your body for days before you notice.

"When you're in the shower, check everywhere for tick bites," said Parrish.

If you find one, remove it immediately and keep an eye out for symptoms. See the recommendations below from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

- When handling or removing ticks, use forceps or tweezers. If you use your hands, wear disposable gloves or shield your fingers with a paper towel or other suitable material. When removing ticks from a person, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. DO NOT twist or jerk the tick, as this may cause the mouthparts to break off, leaving them embedded in the skin.

- Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible–not waiting for it to detach.

- Individuals exhibiting typical tick-borne disease symptoms (acute onset of fever, headache, myalgia, rash, etc.) should not wait for tick testing results before seeking medical care. Remember to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.