Outdoor awareness: Watch out for the tick!

***image1***Tick season has arrived, and people should be aware of ticks when enjoying the outdoors.
Ticks can transmit diseases. Two common diseases found in western and central Europe are tick-borne encephalitis and lyme disease.
Risk of acquiring tick-related disease is greatest from April to August.
Ticks can be found in rural areas where there is high grass including fields, forests and along the edge of paths.
Individuals with extensive outdoor, evening and nighttime exposure in rural areas, such as during bicycling, camping or hiking may be at higher risk for acquiring a disease carried by ticks.
According to Lt. Col. Brian Ortman, 435th Medical Group/Public Health Flight commander, “The risk of tick-borne disease infection in our local area is low, as less than two percent of ticks in the KMC area are thought to carry the lyme bacteria or the TBE virus that causes disease. However, southern Germany and Austria pose a much higher risk.”
Vacationers planning to visit rural or wooded areas in Austria or the German states of Bavaria or Baden Württemberg should especially avoid tick bites.
“If you or your dog comes back with ticks after walking, this indicates that additional protective measures are necessary for both of you,” said Colonel Ortman.
Ticks are often found in areas with shin or knee-high grass (edges of fields or paths). If possible, avoid these areas, he advised.
“The first symptom of exposure to tick-borne disease is usually a skin rash at the site of a tick bite about three to 30 days after bite,” said Colonel Ortman.
“The rash begins as a small red area, which gradually enlarges, often with partial clearing in the center of the rash so it resembles a donut or bulls-eye,” he said. “There may also be rashes, similar in appearance, on other parts of the body. Burning and itching may accompany the rash.”
Other skin signs include hives, redness of the cheeks and under the eyes, and/or swelling of the eyelids with reddening of whites of the eyes.
Skin signs may also be accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, stiff neck, sore, aching muscles and joints, fatigue, sore throat and swollen glands.
If not treated, most symptoms disappear over a period of weeks. However, the rash will reoccur in about 50 percent of untreated people, potentially leading to heart disease, arthritis or central nervous system problems, said Colonel Ortman.
If treated with antibiotics, the skin rash goes away within days, and complications may be avoided.
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral infection of the brain.
After an incubation period of four to 14 days, patients usually develop flu-like symptoms, such as headache and fever that last for about one week. After a remission period (patients show no signs of illness) of a few days to a few weeks, potentially severe nervous system problems can develop.
For more information on ticks and possible exposure to tick-borne diseases, call KMC medical facilities.
(Courtesy of 435th Medical Group)