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Doctors warn about tick uptick

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Doctors in our area say they've seen cases of Lyme disease this year and Indiana health officials have warned about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and the Heartland virus -- all diseases spread by ticks. That's why officials are reminding you to do tick checks on yourself and your children. Doctors say the risk of diseases is low but you should be aware.

Gabrielle Zook is camping this week with her three little kids.

"We all got to sleep last night so that is a positive," Zook says with a laugh.

Zook lives in Niles, Michigan. While she isn't worried about ticks, she definitely keeps a close watch on her girls.

"I lift their hair up and look under neck and armpits, behind their knees and anywhere they could hide," says Zook.

Doctors say Zook is doing exactly what she should.

"This is a very bad tick season," explains Dr. Christine Ramirez, a pediatrician at the South Bend Clinic. She hasn't seen any tick-borne illnesses yet but her colleagues have.

The health department has warned doctors like Ramirez to be aware this year.

Ticks hide in grasses, shrubs and woodlands and sometimes carry dangerous diseases.

According to the state department of health, in the last 5 years Indiana has averaged 38 cases of Lyme disease and five cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever,

Last month, an Indiana toddler died after being diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

"It is not something you need to panic about. While these are dangerous and sound scary they are still rare," says Ramirez.

Still, she says, be on the lookout for any unusual rashes. Fevers, muscles aches, joint pain can also be symptoms. Quick diagnosis is important.

Getting that tick off quickly in the first place is key too.

"There has been one on my middle child but it didn't start burying itself," says Zook.

Doctors recommend what Zook has been doing: Checking yourself and your children for ticks.

To remove a tick, use a tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.

Take precautions to avoid ticks in the first place:

-Use repellents.

-Wear long, light-colored clothing if you are outside where ticks may be.

-Wash clothes in hot water and a hot dryer.

-Check your backpacks or other items where ticks could hide.

-Do full body checks on you and your children.

-Check your child's hairline and belly buttons.

-If you find a tick, document where it was and when.

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