Alabama's tick season predicted to be worse than normal - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Alabama's tick season predicted to be worse than normal

(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)

The symptoms of a tick bite can look like the common cold.

"Typical symptoms include fever, body aches, chills and then a very common distinguishing symptom is the rash," said Cheryl Clay, a public health senior environmentalist in Huntsville.

If you didn't know, you might think Clay was talking about the flu. But she's referring to possible symptoms from tick bites.

Experts say this summer will likely be worse than normal for ticks.

"It’s been so warm, they continue to go through their life cycle. So we anticipate to have a higher tick population this year," Clay said.

Clay suggests keeping your guard up outdoors over the next few months. That means wearing long sleeves and long pants despite the summer heat. She suggests using bug spray with 30 percent DEET as a means of protection.

Clay said if you see a tick on your body, it needs to be attended to immediately.

"If left untreated, it can be very serious. So it's very important, particularly for children who spend a lot of time outdoors. When they come back in, we need to do a thorough tick check,” she said.

Clay said that means checking armpits, hair, clothing, etc. Try wearing light-colored clothing when outdoors so the pests can be spotted more easily.

And while experts can predict this will be an extra-heavy tick season, they can't predict how often the illnesses and diseases affect humans.

"It depends on the tick. What tick was it? Did it have a pathogen? Did it transmit to you? Was it attached long enough? There are so many factors that can go into that," Clay said.

In Alabama, ticks can cause anaplasmosis, babesiois, ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, rickettsiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, southern tick-associated rash illness and tularemia. Rashes may appear as circular, bullseye, skin ulcer, general rash or non-itchy spots, according to Alabama Department of Public Health.

Ticks live in fields and on vegetation, so experts suggest walking in the center of trails and bathing within two hours of an outdoor activity. Try tumble dry clothing on high heat setting for one hour to kill missed ticks.

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