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Arkansas expecting more ticks this summer - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Arkansas expecting more ticks this summer

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TEXARKANA, Ark. -

A warning this summer for those who love to be outdoors, there's an increase in the number of ticks being reported in Arkansas.

The state already has some of the highest levels of tick-related illnesses of any state in the nation.

The news comes on the heels of a man in the neighboring state of Oklahoma who died from the Heartland Virus, which is linked to the Lone Star tick.

In Arkansas, ticks can be active all year round, but are most active in spring and summer.

State entomologists say they're expecting an uptick in the insects, and Miller County officials are predicting the same.

"We probably haven't had as many predators against the ticks, so they are building up higher than they normally would be," said Doug Petty, Miller County Extension Agent.

Petty says the best way to avoid a tick-related illness is to avoid a tick bite by protecting yourself outdoors with inspect spray containing DEET.

"Ticks are going to be bad around pine trees, between tall grass and forests. They like the sun and heat." said Petty.

He says any tick found on the body should be promptly removed by using tweezers, pulling upward with a steady pressure, to assure that the tick's head is completely removed from the skin.

The area should be thoroughly cleaned with alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water.

"They usually go to waist bands, like around underwear, under arms pits and in your hair, mainly behind your ears," explained Petty.

The largest number of ticks in Arkansas are found in the northern area of the state.

"We haven't had ticks in 20 years, thanks to the fire ants," said Steve Rushing, co-owner Rushing Pest Control, Texarkana, Texas.

They've been in business for several decades, but have rarely dealt with tick infestations.

"It's actually a very difficult job. It requires a full yard treatment, complete indoor treatment," said Rushing.

Even though ticks are not the biggest concern in the Texarkana region, Rushing says there are several other problem insects in the area.

"Spiders, ants, cockroaches, and then bed bugs have become widespread in the last three years," said Rushing.

With so many people traveling and camping through Arkansas this summer, it's important to be safe and check for ticks often.

Not only can the parasites be infectious, but health officials say they can be deadly.

In 2012, over 900 cases of tick-related illness were reported to the Arkansas Department of Health.

Five of these cases resulted in death.

Tickborne diseases can result in mild symptoms treatable at home to severe infections requiring hospitalization.

The most common tick-related symptoms are fever, chills, muscle aches, and distinctive rashes.

If you've bitten by a tick and exhibit any of these symptoms, the CDC recommends that you seek medical attention.

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