Health officials warns that ticks are on the rise in SC

Updated: Jun. 8, 2017 at 4:52 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Health officials are warning that there could be a larger population of ticks this year statewide - that means more tick bites

But before you cancel your next trip outdoors, here are some ways you can still enjoy the summer season safely.

"I have three boys and they are very active and we have to get out of the house," Joy Martin said. "It's a little scary especially if they've bitten and embedded in but you just work to get them out. Don't panic. Watch it for a few days."

Outside is exactly where you will find the ticks in bushy areas with tall grass.

But what happens when a tick is worse than its bite? Just this month in Indianapolis, 2-year-old Kenley Ratcliff died from a possible tick-borne illness called Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Dr. Anna-Kathryn Burch is a pediatric infectious disease physician with Palmetto Children's Hospital. She says,

"Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever typically will give you a fever, it can give you a rash, it could give you a really bad headache and really make you feel very, very ill."

Experts say the key to survival is early detection.

"They are treatable with antibiotics," Burch continues. "The important message is that you want to treat the sooner the better. I don't think that parents need to be afraid of letting their kids go outside and running around in the woods or even in their grass, etc."
Health officials recommend that you check your children often for ticks, and if you do find one, Dr. Burch gives advice on what you should do.

"You want to take some tweezers and grasp the tick as close as you can to the skin," Burch instructs. "You want to take the steady pressure and pull upward not twisting, not pulling back. You want to pull upward so you can get all of the body parts of the tick out of the skin."
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, there were 46 cases of Rock Mountain Spotted Fever reported in the state in 2015.

Anytime you're spending time outdoors you will want to wear bug spray with DEET, long sleeve shirts, and pants to avoid ticks.

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