Health experts warn of bad tick season

Health experts warn of bad tick season

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Health experts are urging people to protect themselves against tick-borne viruses.

Tick season is expected to be bad this summer, due to a mild winter and warmer temperatures.

The CDC is also warning of a possible increase of the Powassan virus. The virus can be deadly, but is extremely rare, with only 75 cases reported in the last decade. Powassan can cause inflammation of the brain and long-term neurological problems.

Most cases have been reported in the northeastern states and the Great Lakes region, but southwest Georgia health officials still encourage you to always protect yourself against any and all tick-borne viruses.

"The three ways to do that is to wear DEET, and you can treat your clothing, if you've been outside, remember to do that full body check for ticks, and if you're on trails, or if you can avoid being in the tall grass, and leafy, bushy areas," said epidemiologist Jacqueline Jenkins.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease are the two tick-borne illnesses most commonly reported in Georgia. Several people are infected each year in the state.

Here's what the CDC has to say about Lyme Disease-

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks.

Health officials say early detection is key, and encourage people to do a full body check for ticks after outdoor activities.

"Tick borne illnesses are treated with antibiotics, so if you catch it early on there's a good chance, that severe effects of the illness can be prevented," Jenkins said.

There is currently no treatment for the Powassan virus.

Experts also encourage people to wear long sleeves and pants outdoors, avoid bushy areas and remember to check pets for ticks, too.

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