The Delaware General Health District canvassed a Lewis Center neighborhood last week to warn residents about the dangers of blacklegged ticks, one of which infected a local child with Lyme disease.
A local medical center notified officials Sept. 9 that a child who lives in the area north of Polaris, near Peachblow and Piatt roads, was diagnosed with the disease. It is believed the child was infected after being bitten by an infected blacklegged tick.
Health district spokeswoman Kelsey Sommers said although blacklegged ticks are rare in Ohio, it's typical each year for one person in Delaware County to be diagnosed with the tick-borne disease that causes fever, headache, fatigue and skin rashes.
The child, like most who become infected and seek prompt medical care, was treated with antibiotics. He is not expected to experience any side effects.
While the district is able to warn residents each summer of mosquitoes infected with West Nile by catching them in traps and sending them for testing, it's impossible to determine where infected ticks might be living, Sommers said, so it's important to always take precautions.
Although ticks are most present May through July, they are active all year round.
"With mosquitoes, we have traps set up throughout the county. But there isn't that kind of technology for the different kinds of ticks, so all we can do is go out into the area where we suspect the infection started and explain how to identify a tick and how to remove it," she said.
Registered sanitarians and public health nurses visited about 200 homes Sept. 10 to spread awareness about the Lyme disease diagnosis and how to prevent another infection.
They passed out fliers with recommendations, including that people avoid areas with high grass and walk in the center of trails when hiking, wear light-colored clothing to make ticks easier to spot and use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET on exposed skin.
Sanitarians also told residents they should complete a full-body tick check and follow it with a shower after spending time outdoors.
Those who do find a tick attached to their skin should use tweezers and pull on it steadily until it is removed. The health district flier warns that a hot match head or any other means should never be used to remove a tick.
Once the tick is removed, the health district recommends washing the area with soap and water and seeking medical attention immediately if a rash develops.
A complete list of Lyme disease symptoms and tick information can be found on the health district website, delawarehealth.org.
To have a live tick identified, contact the Ohio State University Extension Delaware County office at 740-833-2030.