Tick season returns to the Carolinas

They may be tiny but if they’re not taken care of they can cause big problems. Ticks are out and already biting this season.

“They are out in full force,” said Dr. Genevieve Brauning of Novant Health South Park Family Physicians. Over the last few weeks Brauning has seen several patients for tick bites. When it comes to ticks, timeliness is critical.

“A lot of the diseases we get form ticks require they be attached for quite a while so it’s important that you catch them early,” said Brauning.

One of the most concerning conditions Brauning sees in the Carolinas is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Symptoms will appear within two to 14 days and can include a fever and flu like similarities. Brauning says the disease is fairly easy to treat with antibiotic. It can get quite serious if it’s not treated early.

Before you head outside this summer Brauning says there are steps you can take to protect yourself. It starts with insect repellant. If you’re going for a hike, consider wearing light colored long clothing. Always wear socks and boots or shoes over sandals.

If you have pets be sure to check them before you come inside.

“They can carry the ticks into the house and the tick can crawl from them to you so it’s good to check your pets as well,” said Brauning.

So what do you do if a tick bites you?

“We recommend removing the tick as soon as possible with a sharp tipped tweezer,” Brauning said. She says while it might be your first instinct to toss the bug in the trash she says you should keep it.

“Put the tick in a plastic bag and write the date you removed it. Then put it in the freezer. If we need to test the tick we at least have it to test for infection,” explained Brauning.

If the tick was attached for more than 24 hours there’s a chance your doctor may go ahead and start with antibiotics to prevent any infection. Otherwise, they will likely monitor you to see if any symptoms appear.

One of the questions she gets quite often is 'should I come see the doctor?' Brauning says if you have been bite it’s always safe to be cautious.