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Summer Tick Season Brings Potential Of Illnesses To Oklahoma

Blacklegged ticks — also called deer ticks — are tiny. This adult female is about the size of a sesame seed.
Stephen Reiss for NPR
Blacklegged ticks — also called deer ticks — are tiny. This adult female is about the size of a sesame seed.

Summer weather means Oklahoma's prime tick season has arrived.

Oklahoma State University Professor Dr. Susan Little said rainy weather has increased Oklahoma's tick population.

Dr. Little said Oklahoma’s tick season is year-round with multiple species occupying the state at different times of the year. She said there are two primary tick-borne diseases of concern in Oklahoma.

"Ehrlichiosis and rocky mountain spotted fever, and those both do have a seasonal distribution of making people and dogs sick in the spring and summer months," Little said.

She said to carefully pull ticks away using tweezers held close to the tick’s mouth. She also recommends saving the tick in a sealed plastic bag in case an illness develops.

"When you take it [the tick] into the acute care clinic it makes it very clear what species of tick and therefore you know what diseases it could have transmitted," Little said.

Other ways to avoid ticks include repellent that contains DEET, wearing long pants and high socks, and staying away from grassy wooded areas.

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