Lone Star Tick becoming active in Florida - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Lone Star Tick becoming active in Florida

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TAMPA, Fla. - The Lone Star Tick is now becoming active across the state of Florida and researchers say the species can put your family at risk of infection.

"It's very aggressive and it's the most common biting tick that we have," said Dr. Kerry Clark, a leading researcher of tick-based infections at the University of North Florida's Dept. of Public Health.

Clark has published research stating the Lone Star tick transmits Lyme Disease, in addition to the black legged tick (also known as the deer tick).

Clark said as the state heads into the spring months the Lone Star Tick, and other species of ticks, are becoming active again. He also said having a warmer winter plays a role in the spread as well.

MYSTERIOUS SYMPTOMS

Even a year after the tick bites, Ethan Burt struggles to find the right words.

He often still feels foggy after being diagnosed with Lyme Disease and Encephalitis. Ticks latched onto Ethan after he walked in tall weeds on a camping trip. His parents didn't realize until days later.

'We left them in him for three days because we didn't know to check," said Christina Buck, his mother.

Buck said doctors had a hard time recognizing what was happening.

"The pediatrician was just like I've never seen a lyme rash I don't know what that is," she said.

Lyme Disease is caused by a spiral shaped bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) that is transmitted primarily by ticks, according to the Florida Lyme Disease Association.

The CDC estimates that there are 300,000 - 329,000 new cases in the United States every year, according to the Florida Lyme Disease Association.

Children ages 5 to 14 are at the greatest risk of acquiring Lyme Disease and constitute approximately 25 percent of all reported cases, according to the Florida Lyme Disease Association.

Ethan now is medicated seven times a day, but is on the road to recovery. Buck said she just doesn't want another family to have to go through what they have.

PREVENTING TICKS, per Florida Lyme Disease Association

1. Avoid tick-infested areas. Be sure to walk in the middle of trails. Treat skin, clothing and gear with appropriate repellents (permethrin on clothes/gear, DEET on skin). Tuck pants into socks.

2. Perform at least daily tick checks anytime you are outdoors, even if only in your yard. Ticks can be as small as a poppy seed. Shower within 1 hour of being outdoors to help prevent ticks from attaching.

3. Carefully remove any attached ticks. Use fine-point tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Gently pull the tick straight out, without twisting. Save the tick for testing.

4. Consider prophylactic antibiotic treatment, weighing the risks/benefits if you have a known tick bite, even before symptoms appear. A disseminated infection can be much more difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate. A Lyme infection can reach the central nervous system within as little as 24 hours.

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