GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – As the temperatures warm up, more people are spending time outdoors – but experts are warning people to be aware of ticks while soaking up the sun.
“I got a bit by a tick on the left shin, and I just ripped it out, not even thinking. I’ve been bit by ticks before,” said Wes Hill, a Winterville resident.
Hill didn’t think much of his tick bite until about two weeks later.
“Covid was starting to ramp up, so I thought I might’ve had covid again with the symptoms started hitting me, the body aches, fatigue couldn’t keep any energy,” said Hill.
But those symptoms are also synonymous with some tick bites, which is why an Infectious Disease Expert at ECU Health says you should waste no time calling a doctor when exposed to the insect.
“If you start having flu-like symptoms, if you notice that rash, that’s very characteristic. Those are situations, so any symptoms start developing, that’s when you should see a doctor,” said T. Ryan Gallaher, ECU Health’s Infectious Disease Expert.
Dr. Gallaher says ticks are known for spreading a variety of illnesses like the rocky mountain spotted fever which is the most common in Eastern North Carolina.
“Went to the hospital that night around 2 in the morning my wife woke up to me shaking in bed and cold to the touch. The bacteria was attacking my nervous system she rushed me to the hospital, and they did three spinal tap injections,” said Hill.
Dr. Gallaher says prevention is the best way to ensure you won’t get bit.
“Wear insect repellent be smart with clothes, even though it might be really hot think about wearing longer clothes to protect and then watching those bushy woody tall areas,” said Dr. Gallaher.
After Hill’s experience, he says he does just that.
“I spray down now, spray my disc bag down because just walking past a leaf now they can jump on you,” said Hill.
Dr. Gallaher said if you see a tick on you, it will take about 36 to 48 hours for the tick to become embedded, so as long as you properly remove it before then, it shouldn’t become infected.
Dr. Gallaher also mentioned after removing the tick, keep it in a safe place in case you start seeing an infection. That way a doctor can properly diagnose you, based on the type of tick that bit you.