How to handle the rise of ticks in Tennessee

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The Asian Longhorned tick is making its way through East Tennessee, found on livestock that has been imported from Asian countries. 

The most recent case of the tick being found in the state is in Knox County.

Health officials say the Asian tick can be problematic because it can multiply without a partner, causing more tick-borne illnesses quicker than usual. 

Here in the Tri-Cities, ticks aren’t uncommon. 

“Normally, we just have the brown ticks in the area. So that is different here,” said Shanna Peterson, FNP with Peterson Family Healthcare in Erwin. 

The brown tick can transmit diseases through their bite with symptoms not showing up for days or weeks. 

Peterson says for our area, the Rocky Mountain Fever or Lyme Disease are the top concerns for tick bites. 

Symptoms include fever, chills, body aches and loss of appetite. 

But with the Longhorned Asian Tick, which has so far only been found on animals on Tennessee, Peterson says, 

“The CDC has reported that it can cause a meat allergy. Itching rash, hives, swelling, shortness of breath, swelling of the throat. The Asian Tick is much larger in its body, the torso of it, and the Asian Tick has much larger legs.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the number of cases involving those pests has more than tripled since 2004. 

Jordan Dyson is a mom of two and says she’s always cautious of bug bites when going outdoors. 

“We actually use Skin So Soft by Avon just because its gentle and has no harsh chemicals. I’ve noticed that we don’t have new bites out in the backyard, in the evening, or at the park. We like to spend a lot of time outdoors just playing and enjoying the weather. We have bug spray and sunscreen. So we’re ready,” Said Dyson. 

If you’re going to be outdoors for a while, Peterson says to cover yourself with a hat, longs leaves, and long pants. 

She says if you do get bit by a tick, 

“The best way to remove a tick is to take fine tip tweezers and grab the tick at the base of the skin where it’s attached and pull it upwards with a steady motion. Then cleanse the area with alcohol, betadine, or antibacterial soap and water.”

The Environmental Protection Agency does say that a bug spray with DEET is the best way to protect yourself from tick bites. 

Peterson says that if you do get bit by a tick, to keep it in a zip lock bag, and if you do experience symptoms of body aces or any type of allergic reaction, make sure to bring it to your doctor, so they can identify the type of tick. 

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