Tick bite care, prevention
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Before embarking upon your next outdoor adventure, become familiar with tick prevention and the potential pathogens ticks carry that cause human diseases. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), the most common disease associated with tick bites is lyme disease.
However, there are several other diseases: anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) and Severe Fever Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS). There has been an increased prevalence of SFTS in South Korea with 45 cases and eight deaths reported by the Korean Center for Disease Control as of July, 2013. Symptoms of SFTS include, but are not limited to fever and gastrointestinal illness, such as stomach aches, nausea, and diarrhea.
Ticks find their hosts by detecting animals' breath and body odors, or by sensing body heat, moisture, and vibrations. They generally pick a place to wait, known as "questing," by identifying well-used paths and rest on the tips of grasses and shrubs. When a host brushes the spot where a tick is questing, it quickly climbs aboard.
To prevent possible disease transmission from ticks, use insect repellent. According to the CDC, it is highly recommended that a repellent containing at least 20 percent of DEET be applied to the skin. Permethrin is another repellent that can be used; however, this product should only be applied to boots, clothing, camping gear and/or mosquito nets. Proper wear of clothing will also prevent transmission if you tuck your pants into your boots, shirt into your pants, and keep sleeves rolled down.
After prolonged exposure to tick-like habitats, you should complete a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas.
Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
Also examine gear (i.e. day packs, etc.) and pets. Ticks ride into homes on clothing and pets, and then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs. Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.
If a tick is found, remove it immediately. According to the US CDC, there are several proper methods for removing ticks from the skin. Using fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull upward with an even steady pressure.
Do not to jerk or twist as this will cause the tick's mouth parts to break off into the skin which may result in bacteria born agents remaining in the bloodstream. After the tick has been fully removed, wash the area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Avoid using home remedies such as burning the tick, nail polish or any other such method. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
If you have been bitten by a tick and suspect that you may be suffering from SFTS, contact your medical provider immediately. For additional questions regarding tick prevention, please contact Public Health at 784-4494.