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2002 News from Mecklenburg County

September 10, 2002


Charlotte, NC – Three additional cases of tick-borne diseases -- two cases of Lyme Disease and one case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) -- were reported to the Mecklenburg County Health Department during August.  That brings the year-to-date (YTD) total to five cases of Lyme Disease and eight cases of RMSF.  That's well above the five-year YTD average of one case of Lyme Disease and four cases of RMSF. 

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, caused by the American dog tick, is most prevalent here in the Piedmont area. Symptoms can start from 3-14 days after finding an attached tick. Initial symptoms can include fever, nausea, vomiting, severe headache, weakness, and muscle pain. Later symptoms include abdominal pain, joint pain, diarrhea and skin rash. It is treatable with antibiotics but can be fatal if left untreated. It does not spread from person-to-person or from pet to person. 

Lyme Disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi and is spread through the bite of the black legged tick or deer tick. Lyme Disease is more prevalent in the north but is still found in the Piedmont. Symptoms include "bull's eye" rash, fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and joint aches and can start from 3-32 days after tick attachment. It is not spread from person-to-person. It is easily treated in the early stages with antibiotics.  

Ticks are usually active in the spring, summer and fall.  Dr. Stephen Keener, medical director for the Mecklenburg County Health Department, emphasized the importance of following simple measures to protect yourself from ticks.  

To protect yourself:

·         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.

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