Warm weather means a higher risk of tick bites


MACON, Ga. -- Warm weather means fun outside, but it can also mean a higher threat of pesky critters.

When the weather warms up, the number of ticks rises.

Chris Cookman, owner of Mosquito Joe in Macon who specializes in outdoor pest management, said ticks are very common in Georgia and typically are found in tall grass and pine straw until they find a host. They then bite on to something, like a dog, squirrel or human, latch on and feed.

Dr. Jennifer Hoffman, an infectious disease specialist with Coliseum Medical Center in Macon, said that ticks can be dangerous because they can carry Lyme and other diseases. She said they are especially hazardous if they stay latched onto your skin for a long period of time--36 hours or more.

Cookman said these bugs can be as small as the size of a pinhead, which makes them hard to spot if they get onto your skin.

He said the best things to do to avoid bites are wearing proper clothing, including long sleeves and long pants, if you will be outside hiking or in overgrown property and wear bug spray that has 20 percent DEET, the active ingredient in insect repellent.

Hoffman said that only a small percentage of ticks actually carry Lyme disease, but that it is important to take all proper precautions to avoid catching it from a carrier.

She said that whenever you or your children come in from being outside, it is important to check for ticks immediately. She said they can be anywhere where skin may have made contact with tall grass.

She said that if you see a tick latched on to you, the best way to remove it is with tweezers. When you remove it, she said to be sure you grab it by the head and said that if you pull it from the body, the head could still be attached.

Hoffman said symptoms of Lyme disease to watch out for are flu-like and include joint pain and an itchy, bullseye-shaped rash around the site of the bite. She said these symptoms can develop up to a week after you've been bitten.

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