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Having Flu-Like Symptoms? Missouri DHSS Says It Could Be A Tick Bite

Ryszard/Flickr: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says nature-lovers need to be on the lookout for early symptoms of tick-borne illnesses this summer.

The reminder comes after a report by the CDC that claimed a tripling in diseases caused by ticks and mosquitos since 2004.

Dr. Randall Williams, director of the DHSS, says it's vital that you see a doctor if flu-like symptoms, characteristic of a tick-borne illness, start to set in.

“In summer, if you come down with a fever, headache, and joint pain, well, we don’t see the flu in Missouri in July,” says Williams.

Ticks can be found all throughout the state, but reside heavily on the Iowa border and central, southwest, and southeast Missouri. Tall grass serves as a home to many of these bothersome bugs, and it’s recommended that you stay in shorter grass when going outdoors.

“When you pass by, they jump off, so to speak. They brush against you,” says Williams. “When I run on a trail, I always try to stay right in the middle. On the side of the trail, there will also be tall grass, and I always look at that tall grass and think, ‘I bet there’s a tick in there somewhere.’”

Williams says they see over 1000 cases each year of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and ehrlichiosis in Missouri alone, and 50% of people who contract these illnesses never knew they had been bitten by a tick.

He says while these diseases can be brutal, even deadly, they are also preventable. The DHSS recommends using insect repellent before going out, and checking for ticks when you get home.

For more information on tick prevention, visit https://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/communicable/tickscarrydisease/index.php.