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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Despite a cold winter that some hoped would kill off ticks, the
pestilent pests are active and biting throughout Arkansas and neighboring states.
“This spring we’re seeing an abundance of lone star ticks and American dog ticks,”
said Kelly Loftin, extension entomologist. Other species common in Arkansas include
the blacklegged tick, the winter tick, the Gulf Coast tick and the brown dog tick.
Arriving with the ticks is the risk of serious illnesses, Loftin said. Some tick-borne
diseases can be fatal if untreated, as evidenced by the recent death of a Delaware,
Oklahoma, man from the Heartland virus. The disease has been linked to the lone star
tick, according to the Center for Disease Control, and other cases of Heartland virus
have been reported in Missouri and Tennessee.
Loftin said the lone star tick also may transmit southern tick-associated rash illness
(STARI), ehrlichiosis and tularemia. The American Dog tick is considered the primary
carrier of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Loftin said several people have asked him if this past winter’s harsh temperatures
would kill the state’s ticks, and he said no.
“Tick species found in Arkansas are adapted to survive harsh winters,” Loftin said.
“Some tick species survive in leaf litter, soil or other protected sites,” he said.
“Others may survive the winter on a host animal.”
Loftin offered tips to avoid tick bites and exposure to potential tick-borne diseases:
Loftin said attached ticks should be removed promptly. If removed within a few hours
after biting, the chance of a tick-borne illness is greatly reduced.
Use clean, fine-tipped tweezers, pulling upward with a steady pressure, Loftin said.
Don’t twist or jerk the tick as this can cause mouth parts to break off and remain
in the skin.
“Thoroughly clean the area the bite area and your hands with alcohol, an iodine scrub
or soap and water,” Loftin said.
Loftin advised knowing the symptoms of tick-borne diseases. If seeing a healthcare
provider, they should be alerted to any tick exposure.
Tick-borne diseases can also cause serious illness in pets and other domestic animals,
Loftin said. He advised checking them frequently and using tick-control products recommended
News releases and photos are available online at https://arkansas-ag-news.uark.edu/News.aspx
Kelly Loftin, Extension Entomologist479-575-3462, email@example.com
Fred Miller, Division of Agriculture Communications479-575-5647, firstname.lastname@example.org