North Carolina - A Winston-Salem-based pest control company says ticks and fleas are still posing problems across the Triad, and people enjoying the remainder of summer outdoors could be subjecting themselves to sometimes fatal illnesses.
McNeely Pest Control owner Scott McNeely described North Carolina as the "epicenter" for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), a tick-spread disease attributed to the death of a Buncombe County girl in June. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 595 cases of RMSF in the state, many of which were linked to a tick source in Guilford County. CDC also reported 127 cases of Lyme Disease in the state.
The antibiotic for Lyme Disease is expensive, as the drug is on the national drug shortage list. McNeely affirmed people can take preventative measures against ticks to ensure contact with the critters does not develop into Lyme Disease or RMSF. The most important of those measures is repellent, though typical mosquito repellent will not repel against all ticks. He recommended using deet-based spray, instead of or in addition to the mosquito repellent.
McNeely said ticks and fleas tend to concentrate in wooded areas near a creek. So, he said if people deviate from open fields or paved paths when outdoors, they are more susceptible to coming in contact with the bugs.
McNeely affirmed the longer an infected tick stays attached to someone's body, the more likely he or she is to develop severe and often fatal symptoms of RMSF or Lyme Disease. Animals like deer also can attract and spread ticks. Thus, he said it is critical for people to check themselves and their children after spending time outdoors.
McNeely and the CDC recommend the following tick removal process: use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surfaces as possible. Then, pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick, as the tick's mouth can break off and remain stuck in the skin. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the area of the bite and then wash hands with rubbing alcohol, soap and water or an iodine scrub.
RMSF is the most commonly-reported tick-borne illness in North Carolina, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Symptoms include fever, muscle pain, headaches and rash. Early symptoms can be similar to the flu.
McNeely said people concerned about ticks and fleas in and around their homes can request for local pest control companies to come spray against the bugs.