Tickborne Disease in Arkansas

Ticks cause more human disease than any other insect in Arkansas, including mosquitoes. Not all ticks cause human infections, however.  Which ticks transmit disease in Arkansas? Which tickborne diseases are found in Arkansas? How do you prevent tickbourne disease? Continue reading to find out!

Tickborne disease in Arkansas

Rocky Mountain Spotted Tick Fever is by far the most common tickborne disease in Arkansas.

The Arkansas Department of Health keeps a current case count for tickborne disease in Arkansas.

Many tickborne disease cause similar symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headaches, pain, muscle aches, or rashes. Symptoms of tickborne disease can be mild or severe. It’s important to seek treatment as early as possible. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any symptoms from a tick bite.

Ticks found in Arkansas

The following tick species are found in Arkansas.

  • American dog tick can transmit tularemia and Rickettsia rickettsii, which causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
  • Blacklegged tick may transmit anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Lyme disease. Lyme disease in Arkansas is, however, rare.
  • Brown dog tick can transmit Rickettsia rickettsii.
  • Gulf coast tick can transmit Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis, which is a form of spotted fever.
  • Lone star tick can cause human ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and STARI.

It’s important to note that although these ticks are found in Arkansas, and capable of transmitting tickbourne disease, a bite from on of these tick species does not necessarily mean that will cause an infection. However, the longer a tick stays attached, the higher the risk of infection. Remove ticks as soon as possible to help prevent transmission of disease.

Prevent tickborne disease

Ticks are active year-round in Arkansas, but you’re more likely to see them during the warm spring and summer months. Preventing tickborne disease means limiting your exposure to tick bites.

  • Mow your yard regularly. Ticks can still lurk in maintained lawn, but they prefer tall grass and thick vegetation.
  • Wear insect repellent that keeps ticks away when heading outdoors.
  • People who work outdoors, or spend a lot of time outdoors, may want to treat clothing with permethein or other insect repellent solutions.
  • Avoid dense grass and vegetation. Stick to trails when hiking or at parks.
  • Light colored clothing won’t make you invisible to ticks, but it can help you spot them if they’re crawling on you.
  • If you can’t avoid tick-infested areas, tuck in your shirt and pull your socks over your pant cuffs to make it more difficult for ticks to bite you.
  • Check for ticks regularly.
  • Shower as soon as you get home after spending time in areas with ticks.
  • Tickborne disease can affect your pets as well. Check your animals for ticks, and talk to a veterinarian for ways to help keep your pets safe.
  • You do not need to see a doctor for every tick bite. However if the bite looks infected, if you have flu like symptoms or an enlarged node you should see your doctor. Early detection and treatment can help prevent serious complications from tickborne diseases.