LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The nation's tick population is growing and with that comes the potential for more infections since there are many different kinds of ticks.
Including the Lone Star Tick which was identified only a decade ago. But already 1,500 people in this country have been bitten by that tick and cannot eat meat because of a reaction to a certain carbohydrate.
"If a tick like the Lone Star Tick, which is a very aggressive biter of humans, if it has bitten another mammal and picked up some of this carbohydrate, then bites us and contaminates us with that carbohydrate, we then will have a real serious allergy to eating meat," Dr. Ron Warner, an epidemiologist at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center said.
The Lone Star Tick is mostly in the southeastern part of the country. But people travel and tick-borne illnesses like Lyme's disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can show up anywhere.
Warner said even the tiniest tick, the size of an "e" on a dime, can bite and leave you with an infection. That's the bad news.
The good news, he said, is that most ticks do not carry disease.
So, if one is bitten, do not go to the doctor and beg for antibiotics, he said. Those not infected, would only be adding to the concern about building immunities form the overuse of antibiotics.
Instead, make a note of the tick bite and wait a week or two and watch for symptoms.
If a fever, rash or a headache develops that's when a doctor is needed.
To avoid tick bites, when walking through areas with brush or tall grass, wear light-colored clothing so ticks are easy to see. Tuck pants into socks, so a tick cannot crawl up a leg. But even before going outside, spray with Deet because the chemical ingredient in those bug sprays is Permethrin which will repel ticks and mosquitos.
For those bitten by a tick, use narrow tweezers to pull the head straight away from the skin without twisting or jerking that could leave some tick parts still hanging on, Warner said.