The Tennessee Department
of Health is seeing significant increases in tick-borne illnesses this
year following an unusually mild winter and spring. Cases of Rocky
Mountain spotted fever are up 533 percent compared to this time last
year, according to Abelardo Moncayo, Ph.D., with the TDH Division of
Communicable and Environmental Diseases and Emergency Preparedness.
documented 38 cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, compared with only
six by the same time last year,” Moncayo said. “We are also seeing
increased numbers of other tick-borne infections compared to last year.
Mountain spotted fever is the most serious tick-borne disease in the
United States. Symptoms usually appear two to 14 days after a bite from
an infected tick. The disease often begins with sudden onset of fever
and headache. Early symptoms may resemble other diseases and include
nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, lack of appetite and severe headache.
Later symptoms may include rash, abdominal pain, joint pain and
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a serious illness that
can be fatal if not treated correctly, even in previously healthy
people. It and other tick-borne illnesses can have devastating effects,
but are effectively treated with antibiotics. Persons with symptoms
should see their medical provider for early diagnosis and treatment.
Tick-borne diseases are best prevented by avoiding tick bites. Some tips from the Tennessee Department of Health include:
- Wear light-colored clothing to help you spot ticks that may catch a ride on you.
- Tuck pants into socks to keep ticks off your legs.
Apply EPA-approved repellents to discourage tick attachment. Repellents
containing permethrin can be sprayed on shoes and clothing and will
last for several days. Repellents containing DEET can be applied to
skin, but must be reapplied every few hours. Follow label instructions
- Search your entire body for ticks upon
return from a potentially tick-infested area. Remove any tick you find
on your body; grasp with tweezers and pull straight back if the tick is
- Check children for ticks, especially in their hair, when returning from potentially tick-infested areas.
- Ticks may also be carried into your home on clothing and pets, so examine both carefully.
- Reduce tick habitats around your home by removing leaf litter and brush.
more information on preventing tick-borne illness, visit the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention website at