With spring in full bloom, people and pets have to look out for one of the pests it brings.

Ticks will soon be out in full force, bringing with them possiblly deadly diseases. According to the Grayson County Health Department, Grayson County has the highest incidence in the state of Rickettsia rickettsii, the bacterium from a tick bite that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

A graphic from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services Reportable Disease Program shows that Grayson County had more than 20 reported cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in 2017 out of the 250 confirmed and probable cases. It said that the number increased by 49.7 percent between 2016 and 2017. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Rocky Mountain spotted fever is most often transmitted by the American dog tick which is in our area, and the Rocky Mountain wood tick and brown dog tick which are not in our area.

The disease can be fatal if not treated within the first five days of symptoms, according to the CDC. The incubation period is three to 12 days.

Symptoms, according to the CDC, are: high fever, severe headache, feelings of discomfort, muscle pain, edema around eyes and on hands, and stomach issues during the first four days. Some cases will appear with a rash. Then in the following days, patients can experience altered mental status, coma, cerebral edema, respiratory compromise, necrosis that requires amputation, and multiorgan system failures.

According to the CDC, the illness appears more often in children and older adults and states that it is best to start treatment within the first five days of symptoms.

In order to protect from ticks this season, the CDC suggests taking certain precautions before going outdoors:

*Know the ticks in your area and diseases they carry. We have the American dog tick, black legged tick, brown dog tick and lone star tick in our area, which can carry a variety of diseases including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.

*Know where to expect ticks: grassy, brushy, wooded areas and on animals.

*Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin.

*Use EPA registered insect repellant containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old or products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.

 *Avoid brushy areas, high grass and leaf litter by walking in the center of trails.

When coming indoors:

*Check clothing for ticks, put clothing in dryer for 10 minutes, use hot water to wash.

*Examine gear and pets for ticks.

*Shower after being outdoors within two hours to wash off unattached ticks and to do a tick check.

*Check your body and your children's' bodies for ticks.

Ticks commonly attach themselves in the following areas:

*under the arms

*in and around the ears

*inside the belly button

*back of knees

*in and around hair

*between the legs

*around the waist

For more information visit https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_people.html or contact the Grayson County Health Department at 270-259-3141.