State health officials are urging Hoosiers to protect themselves from ticks
as cases of tick-borne disease continue to rise in the state.
“More than 100 cases of tick-borne disease have been reported so far in
2018, including one death due to ehrlichiosis in an elderly patient,” the
Indiana State Department of Health (IDSH) said in a statement released on
Monday. “Deaths from ehrlichiosis are rare in Indiana, with only four deaths
reported in the last five years.”
Ticks are small, insect-like creatures that are found throughout Indiana in
grassy and wooded areas and tend to be most active during the late spring
and early summer. Ticks can transmit a variety of diseases, such as Lyme
disease, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In 2017, Indiana
reported more than 250 cases of tick-borne illness.
“Cases of tick-borne disease tend to peak in July,” said Jennifer Brown,
D.V.M., M.P.H., state public health veterinarian at ISDH “You should take
precautions to prevent tick bites whenever you spend time outdoors. Call
your health care provider right away if you develop a flu-like illness or a
rash during the summer months.”
Symptoms of tick-borne disease can include a rash near the bite site and
flu-like illness, including headache, muscle or joint pain, and fever.
Hoosiers can reduce their risk of tick bites by the following:
* Wearing a long-sleeved shirt and light-colored pants, with the shirt
tucked in at the waist and the pants tucked into socks, if they will be in
grassy or wooded areas.
* Treating clothing and outdoor gear with 0.5% permethrin, an insect
repellent commonly used for this purpose. Note that permethrin should NOT be
used on bare skin.
* Using EPA-registered insect repellents with active ingredients such as
DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD)
* Prompt removal of ticks can help prevent disease transmission. Once
indoors, people should thoroughly check for ticks on clothing, gear, pets,
and skin and then shower to help remove any unattached ticks. Tumbling
clothes in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes will kill any ticks on
* To safely remove a tick, use tweezers to grasp the tick close to the skin
and then pull outward with steady and even pressure. After the tick is
removed, wash the area thoroughly. The tick should be discarded by
submerging it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping
it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet. Ticks should never be
crushed with the fingernails.
“Anyone who becomes ill after spending time outdoors should see a health
care provider immediately and inform the provider about any possible tick
exposure,” IDSH said. “Most tick-borne diseases can be successfully treated
with antibiotics, and prompt diagnosis can help prevent complications from
For more information about ticks and how to prevent the diseases they carry,