Tick-borne viruses come with summer temperatures - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

Tick-borne viruses come with summer temperatures

Posted: Updated:

LAWTON, Okla._It's summer and kids are out of school, so that means more people will be involved in outside activities, which for people and pets, can mean ticks.

A tick bite could quickly turn a fun day into a bad one, ticks carry many diseases and a new disease has already claimed the life of one Oklahoman this year. Each year, Oklahoma ranks among those states with the highest number of cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, as well as several other tick-related diseases. The newest one is the Heartland virus and has already claimed the life of one man in northeast Oklahoma.

Dr. Steve Egwuonwu says the Heartland virus isn’t much different from the other common tick diseases, other than it tends to lower your blood count.

"Those blood counts, that are responsible for fighting the infection, we call those the white blood cell counts. Those blood cells help you clot when you bleed, we call those platelets. We find out those are low," said Dr. Egwuonwu.

Dr. Egwuonwu explained that you have 24 hours to find and remove a tick from your body before it transmits the infection.

"Once it goes past 24 hours, they are feeding on you and sucking on your blood. And as they are sucking on your blood, they are introducing viruses like the Heartland virus," explained Dr. Egwuonwu.

A common misconception about ticks is that they jump, fly or drop from trees on your head. But, they actually just crawl up your legs which is why they typically live in tall grass. And don't forget to check your furry friends after a hike or before bringing them inside.

"Ninety percent of the dogs that come in have at least one tick, so that's a high number," explained Veterinarian, Dr. Wayne Haney.

Dr. Haney says monthly preventative medications, administered all year long, will protect your pet.

"Sometimes we forget Oklahoma is a mild enough climate that we see ticks and flees year round. We see less numbers of course in the winter but still we see them," said Dr. Haney.

Dr. Egwuonwu says many times cases go undetected because people pass off the symptoms as something else.

"The problem with this condition is that it can actually linger in your body and move from a phase...and get out of the acute phase and then it becomes chronic and then it ravages your system," explained Dr. Egwuonwu.

Some of the common symptoms of all tick related diseases are body aches, fever and loss of appetite. Dr. Egwuonwu says if you have any of these and think you could've been bitten by a tick, go see a doctor.

So far this year there have been 34 tick related diseases reported in Oklahoma.

To protect yourself, use tick repellent containing DEET and wear light colored clothing to make ticks easier to see.

Powered by WorldNow
KSWO-TV, 1401 SE 60th Street
Lawton, OK 73501

Telephone: (580) 355-7000
Fax: (580) 357-3811
Email: news@kswo.com

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and KSWO. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.