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Tick Illnesses - KOAM TV 7

Tick Illnesses

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The heat is here, meaning more people are headed to the great outdoors.
    And with a mild winter, health officials expect a high number of ticks this year also bringing an increased risk of tick-borne illnesses.
Billy Wade is a storm chaser, and nature photographer, so he spends the majority of his time, outside, in tick-prone areas.
Wade: "I've never gotten sick, but I have had tick bites turn into infections, and, not staph or anything like that, but I've had little infections and things that I've had to go and get antibiotics and and even a steroid once."
But it could have been worse.
McDonald: "With ticks, there's 12 known diseases that can be caused in this area by ticks."
Doctor Robert Hilton McDonald and his daughter Doctor Lea Humphrey are ear, nose, and throat surgeons at the Mercy Clinic in Joplin.
McDonald: "The Lyme disease is pretty serious, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, they need to be treated early or, they can actually cause death, and sometimes it's chronic, years and years, of problems if it's not caught early."
And when it comes to symptoms, Doctor Humphrey says you may notice a "bulls eye rash" associated with Lyme disease after a tick bite, but the symptoms of rocky mountain spotted fever, may be more subtle.
Humphrey: "Usually you get kinda like, spots, on your wrists, palms, that sort of thing, and then it becomes worse, not all the time, so also after you get bit by a tick, if you start developing flu-like symptoms, that would be a 'hey, you need to go see your doctor."
And when it comes to prevention, there are several steps to take.
Wade says his experience has taught him some "non-traditional" techniques to ward off ticks.
Wade: "Believe it or not, I actually eat a lot of onions and garlic in my diet, and that helps with a lot of the ticks and even mosquitos."
Both doctors and those enjoying the outdoors have some similar tips to share to keep you and your family safe.
Humphrey: "Long pants, long sleeves with cuffs, socks, boots, that sort of thing.  And then, take a shower right away after you get home."
Wade: "You just have to think straight, and make sure you have the appropriate clothing, so make sure you have long pants on."
Doctors also recommend a bug spray, like Deet, to help keep ticks and other pesky insects, away.

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Chris Warner
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A Joplin native, Chris first started in broadcasting at age 16 at KSNF-TV in 2004..

Chris joined the KOAM team in 2017 as an Associate Producer. In April, he moved into a full-time reporter position. He spent time from 2008 to 2016 in various retail roles around the region before returning to his passion at KOAM. Chris is excited to continue telling the stories of the four states. Chris and his wife Amber live in Joplin and have three amazing children.

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