Citizens Memorial Hospital | Vitality | Summer 2023

6 VITALITY Summer 2023 As temperatures rise, humans and animals become meal tickets for ticks. Ticks carry harmful diseases, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and ehrlichiosis, which are highly prevalent in Missouri, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Transmission of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Missouri is associated with the dog tick. Early symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches and joint aches, usually appearing between two and 14 days after being bitten by an infected tick. “Rash occurs in approximately 90% of patients, but may not be present in the early phase,” says Eric Fulnecky, M.D., an infectious disease doctor with CMH. “Ticks must be attached for at least 24 hours to transmit infection.” Ehrlichiosis is another bacterial infection, with symptoms including fever, malaise, headache, chills, nausea, vomiting and cough. More than 50% of patients require hospitalization. “These diseases are serious, but the good news is we have treatments available for both of them,” Dr. Fulnecky says. “Seek medical help immediately if you think you might have a tick-borne illness. The sooner you seek care, the better.” April to June is peak time for tick-related emergency room visits, according to the CDC. PROTECT YOURSELVES AND PETS Before going to tick-prone areas, apply a repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD) or 2-undecanone. Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under the age of 3. Visit insect-repellents to find a product that fits your needs. Do not use products formulated for humans on pets. Your veterinarian can recommend a prevention product. Treat clothing, footwear and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. After being outdoors, remove and examine clothing. Promptly wash clothes in hot water (medium or cold water won’t kill ticks). Dry on high for at least 10 minutes. Shower within two hours of being outdoors. Check underarms, belly buttons, back of knees, around the waist, ears, between legs and around the hairline. Also check pets for ticks. REMOVE TICKS CAREFULLY If you find a tick attached to your skin, remove it promptly and carefully: Specialized care for infectious diseases Tick-borne illnesses may require treatment by a physician specializing in infectious diseases. The CMH Infectious Disease Clinic provides specialized care for infectious diseases, usually with a referral from a primary care physician. Eric Fulnecky, M.D., is certified in infectious disease medicine by the American Board of Infectious Disease. He completed a residency in internal medicine at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana, and an infectious disease fellowship at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. The CMH Infectious Disease Clinic is in the Douglas Medical Center. LEARN MORE. Call 417-328‑7985 for more information or to schedule an appointment. SAFETY Eric Fulnecky, M.D. Guard against tick-borne diseases NEED A DOCTOR? To locate a primary care or infectious disease physician, go to search/providers/ index.html. » Use tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. » Pull straight up when removing the tick. Do not twist or jerk. » Never crush a tick with your fingers. FOLLOW UP WITH A DOCTOR See a doctor if you develop a fever or rash within several weeks of removing a tick. Common signs of infection include fevers, chills, aches and pains, or a rash. Source: University of Missouri Extension