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2002 News from Mecklenburg County

July 23, 2002


Charlotte, NC - The hot, dry summer may be controlling mosquitoes, but it's perfect weather for ticks in North Carolina.  As of the end of June, there have been three cases of Lyme disease and three cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever reported to the State by the Mecklenburg County Health Department. 

North Carolina usually has more cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever each summer than any other state, according to the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR).  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that over the past six months the number of reported cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever has more than doubled, and the number of reported Lyme disease cases has increased six times compared to 2001 statistics. 

Just this week, a Mount Pleasant girl died of what doctors say may be a case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  The 9‑year‑old was reportedly taken to Stanly Memorial Hospital Friday and died Sunday at Carolinas Medical Center. 

Tick season runs from April through October.  Ticks carry diseases like Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis, which has symptoms similar to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever without the rash. If caught early, these diseases can be successfully treated with antibiotics. 

To protect yourself from ticks:

·         Layer your clothes.  Wear long pants and sleeves when in areas that are likely to have ticks, such as high grass, bushes and woods.

·         Tuck pants legs into socks and shirts into pants.

·         Wear light‑colored clothes to makes ticks easier to see.

·         Use tick repellants on exposed skin.

·         Check yourself and your children for ticks at least every six hours.  If ticks are removed within a few hours of attachment, it is unlikely that you will contract a disease.

·         Inspect pets for ticks to keep them from bringing ticks into your home. 

To remove a tick:

·         Grasp it with tweezers or a tissue close to the skin and pull straight out, slowly, until the tick lets go.

·         If the tick's mouth parts break off in the skin, remove them with a sterile needle like you would a splinter.

·         Wash your hands and the bite area with soap and water, then clean the bite area with disinfectant.

·         Mark the bite date on a calendar.  If you develop any flu‑like symptoms, fever, or a rash over the next several weeks, you'll be able to tell the doctor when you were bitten.

·         Put the tick in a jar or plastic bag with alcohol should you need to take it with you to your doctor's office. – Source: NC Cooperative Extension Service and NC State University .

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