Tick forum panelists, left to right: Bruce Harrison, Steve Seagle,
Marcia Herman-Giddens, Ken Knight, and Graham Hickling
On Friday, April 28th, the Chatham County Public Health Department, with leadership from the Board of Health, hosted the 2017 Tick Forum to discuss issues around ticks and tick-borne illness in North Carolina, with a focus on Chatham County. The event featured presentations by local, state, and national experts on these issues and was well attended by local and regional residents and stakeholders interested in learning more about mitigating tick-related issues. Presentation topics included tick-borne illness burden in North Carolina, history of ticks, deer population management, impacts of deer management on tick-borne illness, and land use impacts on the tick population.
In Chatham County, tick-borne illnesses are a major concern, with Rocky Mountain spotted fever topping the list each year. Other tick-borne illnesses found in Chatham include Lyme disease, Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), and ehrlichiosis. Summer is fast approaching and people are spending more time outdoors, so it is important for everyone to take precautions to protect against tick bites.
What can you do to protect yourself from these dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases? The North Carolina Division of Public Health encourages the following activities to help protect against illness caused by ticks:
- Avoid tick habitats, which includes wooded, grassy, or brushy areas.
- If you can’t avoid a tick habitat, use tick repellent and wear light-colored clothing, long sleeves, and long pants. Tuck your pants legs into your socks.
- Check yourself and your kids for ticks when returning from being outdoors. Be especially watchful around the waist, the groin, and the neck.
- If you see an attached tick, carefully remove it by grasping the tick with fine-tipped tweezers as close as possible to your skin and apply a steady gentle pressure until it releases. The Chatham County Public Health Department has tick kits available that include tweezers and important information related to ticks.
- After safely removing the tick, document the location of attachment, the day the tick was removed, photograph or save the tick by taping it to an index card so it may be identified if you fall ill, and watch for signs of illness such as rash or fever. If you experience these symptoms, see your health care provider and let them know you were recently bitten by a tick.
While it is not possible to prevent all cases of tick-borne illness, you can greatly reduce your risk by following these basic control measures.
To learn more about ticks or to watch videos of the Tick Forum presentations, visit www.chathamnc.org/ticks.