NASHVILLE, TENN. (Osborne) -- Public health officials are warning Tennessee residents that tick borne illnesses are on the rise.
State Deputy Epidemiologist John Dunn is urging Tennesseans to take precautions against ticks. He also recommends making yourself familiar with symptoms of tick-borne illnesses. The most common is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
“We see several hundred cases of that each year and it has tended to go up in the past ten years or so.”
Dunn says Ehrlichiosis is also common in Tennessee. Lyme Disease is less common but not unheard of. Symptoms for all three are generally mild, but can be serious in some cases.
The number of cases of Lyme Disease have remained fairly stable in recent years. But the number of spotted fever and Ehrlichiosis have jumped more than 19 times over the past two decades.
Dunn says state officials are concerned about a new and invasive tick recently detected in the eastern part of the state. Asian longhorned ticks have not yet been associated with harmful illnesses in Tennessee, but are a problem in other parts of the world.
Dunn notes if you’re spending time in wooded areas, or walking through tall grass, it’s a good idea to watch for unwelcome hitchhikers.
“When they come home from those areas they should be checking themselves for ticks, and it’s also a good idea to check your pets as they come in and out of the house. They care bring ticks inside.”
Dunn recommends if you’ve had a tick bite and later develop fever, body-aches, flu-like symptoms, or rash, let your physician know right away.