Ticks

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COLUMBIA - An experience our meteorologist had is one others may face this summer while outside. 

KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist Kenton Gewecke went for a hike at Lake of the Ozarks State Park on Saturday, but he ended up bringing back some unexpected visitors: ticks. 

"I stop and I'm looking down at my legs, and I see what looks like this piece of mud or something," Gewecke said. "And then I look even closer, and there's a whole bunch of baby ticks everywhere."

Gewecke said the trail was very narrow so his legs would constantly hit and rub against the plants and pick up ticks. He said throughout the trip he probably had around 200 ticks attached to him. 

People get more tick bites and tickborne diseases during the months May through July than any other time of the year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention.

Some tickborne diseases include Lyme disease and Powassan virus. The CDC said more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease cases are reported yearly, but most people don't know they have the disease.  

Eric Stann, the community relations specialist for Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services, said people can get diseases from ticks, but not all ticks are carrying diseases.

"If you do get a tick bite you may not get a disease, but if you start feeling flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, you'll want to probably talk to your medical provider and have that checked out," Stann said. 

To help prevent ticks Stann recommends staying in the middle of the trail, wearing bug spray with at least 20 percent DEET and taking a shower immediately after walking in the woods. 

"So often times when you're hiking you're recommended to stay in the center of the trails," Stann said. 

He said ticks will climb onto a tall blade of grass or a weed and wait until something brushes by. Stann said they will then begin "latching onto the host for basically what is called a blood meal."

Ticks are mostly found in the woods but can also be located in someone's own yard. 

"Make sure your grass is cut down low because taller grass can be an area where ticks can thrive, as well as cleaning up your yard from anything that may be sitting out," Stann said. 

If you get a tick the CDC suggests using tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible. Pull upward, but don't jerk the tick. After removing the tick, clean the bite with rubbing alcohol and put the tick in alcohol or flush it down the toilet. 

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