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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – The earlier the Spring, the earlier the insects come out according to a researcher from the University of Missouri. Wayne Bailey says there have already been higher numbers of mosquitoes and ticks reported. But he warns that a cold snap could still wipe out a big chunk of the mosquito population.
Bailey said, “mother nature always bats last and we’re not sure what’s going to happen yet but we certainly have the potential for a higher than normal number of insects this spring.”
One pest in particular is already starting to pop up and that’s the tick. The warmer weather means ticks are getting hungry, so check yourself or your family members if you’re spending a lot of time outside. Bailey says watch for symptoms of infection if you are bitten by a tick.
“If you do get a tick bite, you need to write down the date after you take it out and you watch for any kinds of symptoms, such as red spots or a red circle around the bite especially about seven to ten days later.”
But he says most people don’t get sick from ticks or mosquitoes. To prevent ticks, wearing a hat ensures they can’t bite your scalp where they could go unnoticed. Bug repellents containing Deet are good to prevent tick and mosquito bites.
Some people have an allergic-tap reaction to the salivary secretions of the tick. This can cause tick paralysis, particularly if the bite is at the base of the skull on the back of the head. Paralysis can affect certain parts of the body, or it can result in nearly total paralysis. This happens most often in children and small adults. As disturbing as it seems the paralysis begins to disappear with the removal of the offending tick, and total recovery can be expected. Another reaction to the salivary secretions is tick toxicosis. It is essentially a poisoning of the host even though no venom is injected. It begins with redness and swelling at the site of the tick bite and can become quite serious, even fatal. Both tick paralysis and tick toxicosis are uncommon.
In addition to the tick bite and reaction to salivary secretions, there are a number of tick-borne diseases: tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. Named for the Connecticut town where it was first diagnosed, Lyme disease is presently in the news. It is currently causing significant concerns in the northeastern United States. Although Missourians should be informed about the disease, its occurrence in Missouri has yet to be medically documented. In the eastern United States it is spread primarily by the deer tick (Ixodes dammini) that does not occur in Missouri. Presumably the disease can also be spread by the American dog tick (Dermacentor variables) and the lone star tick (Amblyomma amercanum), both of which occur here. Missourians should not overreact to this potential threat but continue to minimize their contact with any tick-borne disease.