If you spend time outdoors, whether it’s in your backyard or out in the wilderness, you should be mindful of coming across ticks and potentially getting a tick-borne illness.
Tick infestations pose a threat to Alabamians, with various types of ticks being prevalent in the Yellowhammer State. The Lone Star (Water Tick), Black-Legged (Deer Tick), American Dog (Wood Tick), Brown Dog, and Gulf Coast are among the most common ticks found in the area.
The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 3 cases of Tularemia, 11 cases of Ehrlichiosis Anaplasmosis, 32 cases of Lyme disease, and 118 cases of Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis in 2022 due to tick-borne diseases.
UAB stated that Powassan virus and Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness are other high-profile tick-borne diseases. However, there are no reports of their occurrence in Alabama yet.
According to UAB, the Lone Star tick is responsible for transmitting the Powassan virus, which can cause brain swelling and meningitis. Approximately 10 percent of individuals who contract the virus and develop these symptoms succumb to the disease, while almost half of those who survive are left with permanent neurological damage, such as memory problems, facial tics, and blurred vision.
Ticks in Alabama Have Seasons, Did You Know?
Ticks can pose a threat throughout the year, despite the misconception that they are only a summer problem. The Alabama Department of Public Health offers a useful guide that outlines the various seasons when ticks are active and how they overlap.
Tickborne illnesses can cause fever, muscle soreness, headaches, fatigue, and/or a rash as initial symptoms. If left untreated, these diseases can become severe or even life-threatening.
Alabama Department of Public Health – Prevention Tips
You can lower your risk of getting a tickborne disease while outdoors by:Avoiding wooded and brushy areas where ticks tend to liveWalking in the center of trailsUsing repellent that contains at least 20% DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skinTreating clothes with 0.5% permethrinFinding and removing ticks from your body and clothing within 2 hours of coming indoors
Safely Removing a Tick Attached to Your Skin: A Guide
Use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.Pull upward on the tick with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick.Dispose of a live tick by submerging it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed container, or flushing it down the toilet.Clean the bite area and your hands with soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or an iodine scrub after removing the tick.