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Ticks: How to decrease chances of getting bitten

FILE - A female blacklegged tick is pictured May 18, 2012. (Lennart Tange / CC BY-SA 2.0 via MGN)

MACON, Ga. (WGXA) - A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that diseases spread through mosquitoes, ticks and fleas have nearly tripled since 2004.

In 2016 alone, there were over 90,000 cases of vector-borne diseases.

Michael Hoakson with the North Central Health District said that people need to be careful as the weather warms up. Ticks tend to hang out around tall grass, piles of leaves and tree debris.

"You'll see people running around in the ... woods, playing outdoor sports, going hunting, and that's when, of course, they'll start picking up the ticks a little more," said Hoakson.

Nashonda High and her kids love the outdoors and said that, fortunately, she's never encountered a tick.

"Yeah ... that we haven't experienced that because, like you were saying earlier, they carry Lyme diseases or whatever -- we don't need to be paralyzed," said High.

Ticks can spread many illnesses and diseases to humans, such as Lyme disease and rocky mountain spotted fever.

"In fact, in the 2016-2017 season, our district alone, our 13-county district, had over 1,000 lab cases of rocky mountain spotted fever for the state," Hoakson said.

He added that rocky mountain spotted fever is more common than Lyme disease in the midstate.

"The best thing to do is if you've been bitten by a tick and you start to experience these symptoms, if a rash starts to form, if you get ... feverish after you get bitten by a tick, is to contact your health care provider immediately," he said.

Ways to prevent a tick from biting include using repellent that has DEET, wearing shirts with long sleeves, and checking all parts of the body when getting back from a day outdoors.

"These symptoms can become more serious over time and you want to make sure you aren't missing work, you are not missing school, fevers can knock you out," Hoakson said.

Hoakson added that even though Lyme disease is less common in Middle Georgia, it's still important to stay protected when traveling to areas where there are more reported cases.

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