Summertime and ticks: The parasites can cause problems!

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Miss. (WTOK) - Summer is prime time for ticks! In recent days a five-year-old in Mississippi was in the national spotlight after getting bitten by one, and left temporarily paralyzed. Although they are small, local officials say if not treated, tick bites can cause big problems!

"However, once the tick is removed you do start to see a reversal of the symptoms," says Rush Hospital pediatrician, Dr. Rachel Hull. She says a person can remove a tick at home.

"We just recommend that you get tweezers," says Dr. Hull, "and get as close to the skin as possible and remove the tick, but if you start to see a rash near the tick bite, swelling, redness or a rash that's spreading or they do start to develop some of the systemic signs like the vomiting or diarrhea or paralysis, you do need to have them seen as soon as possible."

So, where can you find a tick? It turns out that it's in places where it can get on grass or bushes and wait on an animal to pass by to catch a ride.

"They put out their little hooks, and when something comes by which is usually a deer, they 'hook on,' and they get carried off," says Shani Hay, who is the MSU Extension Service Agent for Lauderdale County.

She says ticks can find their way onto a person's body. That's why she says it's always important to thoroughly check yourself when you go home.

"They like the woods and grass, and they like to hide in dark places on you," says Hay. "So, around your underwear, in waistbands, arms; they like to tuck in like behind your legs and knees. They prefer kind of dark secluded places where they can hide because they try to go unnoticed."

Because they like to hide in the dark, Hay says it's good to wear light colored clothing outside, along with a repellent spray that contains permethrin on your clothes. She also says cutting grass and bushes near your house will help.

"So, if you can eliminate their habitat and comfy zones around your place, which is brush, trees and overgrown shrubs, then you can also eliminate their habitat, which is one of the best things that you can do," says Hay.

According to the MSU Extension Service, there are at least 19 different species of ticks in Mississippi. Seven of those are most commonly found in our area. Of those, the two most prevalent are the "deer tick" and the American dog tick.