Ticks expected to reach highest number in years

Health alert issued

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A health alert is being issued about a tiny insect that can have a major impact on your health.

Scientists predict 2017 could bring the highest number of ticks in years, and there's already been deaths reported from tick-borne illnesses across the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from May through July, people will get more tick bites and tick-borne diseases than any other time of year, adding that it's not just about protecting yourself, but also keeping an eye on your children and pets.

Just last week, a 2-year-old Indiana girl died. Kenley Ratliff's parents said she was bitten by a tick while they were camping. Eventually, the symptoms of the bite led to organ failure.

Doctors said a bulls-eye rash is one of the big signs to look out for.

"Look out for rashes, any fever-like illnesses, muscle pain, headaches, right after exposure to ticks," Dr. Shalaka Ghate said.

It's important to do full-body checks on yourself and your kids when you return from wooded areas.

Local mother Lindsey Davis told News4Jax she makes it part of her routine.

"(I'm) checking all of her areas -- armpits, under her legs, that kind of thing -- to make sure there's not anything that's like, you know, those little black dots," Davis said.

The CDC said other things to keep in mind are:

  • Avoid areas with high grass.
  • Stay on trails if you're hiking.
  • Use repellent with 20 percent or more Deet.
  • Shower as soon as you go indoors.
  • Tumble dry your clothes on high heat for 10 minutes -- that will kill any ticks on your clothing.

If you have any concerns, you should go to your doctor to get checked out.

Doctors said it's important to go through all of the mentioned steps because a tick bite can lead to long-term problems like memory problems, heart irregularities and arthritis.

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