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June named as Tick-Borne Disease and Illness Awareness Month in Alabama

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Alabama Senate Joint Resolution 85 has proclaimed June 2024 as Tick-Borne Disease and Illness Awareness Month in Alabama. The resolution aims to educate Alabamians about tick prevention and of the symptoms associated with many tick-borne diseases and illnesses.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), tick-borne diseases and illnesses have been on the rise both nationally and in Alabama. Several tick species in the state have been found to carry illness-causing bacteria.

Although the most well-known tick transmitted illness is Lyme disease, Dr. Dee Jones, state public health veterinarian for ADPH, said that Alabamians should be informed about the other common tick-borne diseases and illnesses.

“What gets a lot of national attention is Lyme disease, and certainly we do have small numbers of Lyme disease, but a lot of people tend to overlook the other tick-borne diseases, which include Rickettsia bacterial diseases, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis,” said Jones.

The ADPH website states the most commonly tick-transmitted diseases in Alabama are:
· Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis
· Lyme disease
· Ehrlichiosis
· Anaplasmosis

The other rare tick-borne diseases of public health concern reported in Alabama that include:
· Tularemia
· Babesiosis
· Powassan Virus
· Alpha-gal syndrome
· Typhus fevers

Among the more common tick-borne disease and illness, symptoms include fever, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue and rashes. However, the symptoms can vary from illness to illness.

Because a lot of the symptoms are similar to those of the common cold and flu, tick-borne diseases and illnesses are often misdiagnosed. This is why it is important to take special care after removing a tick bite.

Another aspect of the resolution is to educate Alabamians about tick-borne disease and illness prevention.

“The backbone of tick borne disease prevention is checking yourself for ticks,” said Jones.

The best time to check for ticks is in the shower after being outdoors. Places to check for ticks on the body include under the arms, around the ears, inside the belly button, back of the knees, in and around the hair, between the legs and around the waist.

The ADPH offers these tips to help Alabamians lower their risk of getting a tick-born disease while outdoors:

  • Avoiding wooded and brushy areas where ticks tend to live:
  • Walking in the center of trails
  • Using repellent that contains at least 20% DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin
  • Treating clothes with 0.5% permethrin
  • Finding and removing ticks from your body and clothing within 2 hours of coming indoors

More information about ticks and tick bites can be found through the Center for Disease Control’s Tick Bite Bot. This is an interactive tool that can assist individuals on removing attached ticks and determining when to seek health care.

More information regarding tick bite care and prevention can be found on the ADPH website.

Hannah Holcombe is a student intern at the Alabama Public Radio newsroom. She is a Sophomore at the University of Alabama and is studying news media. She has a love for plants, dogs and writing. She hopes to pursue a career as a reporter.
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