Summit County Public Health conducts surveillance of tick-borne diseases and offers education to the public about how to avoid, identify and remove ticks. Keep reading for more information, or see the resources page to download additional resources, including photos to help you identify tick species in Ohio.
Spotted Fever (or tick typhus, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever)
Adult American Dog ticks are the primary transmitter of spotted fever in Ohio. Symptoms appear 3 to 12 days after tick contact. There is a sudden onset of symptoms that include fever, headache, and aching muscles. A rash usually develops on the wrists and ankles on the second or third day of fever. The rash then spreads to involve the rest of the body, including the palms and soles. If you experience fever following tick contact, see your physician. It is important to receive the appropriate antibiotics as soon as possible if spotted fever is suspected. Most fatalities can be attributed to a delay in seeking medical attention.
The most prevalent tick-borne disease of humans in the U.S. is Lyme disease (about 10,000 cases annually), named after Lyme, Connecticut where cases were first reported in 1975. The nymphal stage of the Black-legged tick is usually responsible for transmission of this bacterial disease to humans in the U.S. The nymph (in unfed condition) is about the size of a flat-pinhead and pale brown in color. Be alert for a red, ring-like lesion developing at the site of a tick bite within 2 to 32 days. Fever or headache may also be present. Immediate antibiotic therapy reduces the risk of subsequent arthritic, neurologic, or cardiac complications developing days to years later. Endemic areas in the United States include the east coast from Massachusetts to Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northern California, Oregon, and southern Washington. There is evidence that the tick that carries Lyme disease is becoming endemic in Ohio. The spirochete-type bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, has never been isolated or identified from any Ohio (resident) animals or ticks, despite the fact that hundreds of Ixodes ticks have been tested and more than one hundred susceptible rodents have been tested. The distribution of Lyme Disease in the United States is strongly linked to the distribution of the principal tick vectors. The principal vector for the Northeastern and Midwestern United States is the Black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis. The Deer tick, (Ixodes dammini), was described as a new species and as the vector of Lyme disease, but recent reports have stated that both ticks are actually one in the same, and therefore should be called the "Black-legged tick."
These tips can help you avoid tick bites:
- Stay out of weedy, tick-infested areas.
- Make frequent personal inspections.
- Examine children at least twice daily. Pay special attention to the head and neck.
- Check clothing for crawling ticks.
- Keep dogs tied or penned in a mowed area as they may bring ticks into the homeor yard. Check them daily. If ticks are found, follow tick removal instructions.
- If exposure to a tick-infested area is unavoidable, tuck pant cuffs into socks orboots. Wearing light-colored clothing makes it easier to find crawling ticks.
If a tick should become attached to you or your pet, remove it as soon as possible. Prompt removal reduces the chance of infection by Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) and Lyme Disease (LD). Here's how to remove a tick:
- Using tweezers or wear rubber gloves, grasp the tick close to the skin, and with steady pressure, pull it straight out.
- Do not twist or jerk the tick, as mouthparts may be left in the skin. Take care not to crush or puncture the tick during removal.
- Use of a hot match or cigarette to remove a tick is NOT recommended as this may cause the tick to burst. Spotted fever may be acquired from infected tick body fluids that come in contact with broken skin, the mouth, or eyes.
- Avoid touching ticks with bare hands. Tick secretions can be infectious. Spotted fever can be acquired through self-inoculation into a small scratch or cut.
- After removing a tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash hands with soap and water.
- Ticks can be safely disposed of by sticking them to tape and putting them in the trash.
The experts at SCPH can help you identify ticks. For more information, or for help identifying a tick,