Whether enjoying the beautiful outdoors in Missouri or elsewhere, you should be on the lookout for ticks. Ticks can carry infections, but most don’t carry diseases or cause serious health problems. If you’re infected by a tick bite, the symptoms typically begin within two weeks. You could have a sudden fever, body aches and headache along with a red spot or rash appearing around where you were bit.

What if you find a tick?

A tick“Remove it as soon as you can. The longer the tick is attached, the greater risk of infection,” Dr. Scott Henderson, MD and Student Health Center medical director, says. The steps in removing a tick include:

  • Use tweezers to grab the tick as close to your skin as possible.
  • Pull it STRAIGHT out. Don’t twist or jerk the tick.
  • DO NOT use alcohol, matches, liquid soap or petroleum jelly to remove it.
  • Wash your hands and the bite area with soap and water after removing the tick.
  • Apply antiseptic or antibiotic cream to the site.

The majority of Missouri’s tick-borne illnesses can be successfully treated if they are caught early. “Of course,” says Henderson, “if you have any symptoms following a tick bite, make sure you tell your medical provider.”

Cleveland Clinic suggests the following ways to prevent tick bites:

  • Use insect repellent with a minimum of 20% DEET, picaridin or IR3535. Apply it to exposed skin and clothing.
  • Where light-colored clothing, long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Avoid tick-infested areas such as brushy areas, tall grasses, wood piles and leaf litter. If your can’t avoid these areas, spray your clothing with a product containing permethrin.
  • Keep your lawn mowed short, trim shrubs and trees and remove any lawn debris from your yard.
  • Check your pets regularly for ticks. And talk to your vet about using a tick prevention treatment.
  • Check for ticks before you go inside. And, if possible, change your clothes and take a shower soon after doing activities outside.