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Sun's out, ticks out: Recent Oklahoma weather conditions help ticks thrive

The lone star tick (pictured above) is currently the number one most active tick in Oklahoma, said Justin Talley, the department head of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Oklahoma State University.
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Oklahoma State University
The lone star tick (pictured above) is currently the number one most active tick in Oklahoma, said Justin Talley, the department head of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Oklahoma State University.

Summer is here and temperatures are heating up. That means bugs like ticks are excited to nip at people passing them by.

Recent rainfalls across the state and an increase in temperatures are the perfect recipes for a sticky, humid summer. That means bugs like ticks are excited to nip at people passing them by.

“We're seeing them on livestock, we're seeing them on pets, and we’re even seeing an increase in the number of people reporting tick bites,” saidJustin Talley, the department head of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Oklahoma State University.

Talley said ticks often hide in tall grass and wooded areas, a perfect spot to grab onto passing hosts. He said people can help prevent getting a tick bite by spraying themselves with bug repellent with at least25% DEET concentration. He also said wearingpermethrin clothing, or insect-repellent clothing can be helpful too.

He also encourages people to do a “tick check” after spending time outside.

“Really focus on both applying the repellent and checking [for ticks] around the waistlines around the ankle lines, anywhere around the midsection, and within your hairline too if you lay on a blanket outside,” Talley said. “It’s those areas where you may tighter fitting clothing.”

But if a tick manages to sneak by, and you get bitten, Talley said it’ll be noticeable because it’ll likely attach itself to your skin.

He said the best thing to do is to slowly remove the tick off your skin with tweezers, as opposed to ripping it off quickly.

“You don't want to ever jerk it out of your skin because if it leaves the head in your skin, then it can lead to secondary infections,” Talley said.

He said the next step is to save the tick in a ziplock bag, put it in the freezer and take it with you when you visit with your doctor so they can determine the right diagnosis.

Talley said the lone star tick is currently the number one most active tick in Oklahoma, which is capable of spreadingehrlichiosis and theheartland virus — which are associated with flu-like symptoms — and causing a red meat allergy in people calledalpha-gal syndrome.

Additional information about common ticks and tick-borne diseases in Oklahoma can be found on Oklahoma State University’s Extension website.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

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