One case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, a disease spread by ticks, has been diagnosed in Morrow County.
Public Health Director Sheree Smith said the infection is treatable with antibiotics, but the disease can cause fever, nausea, body ache, vomiting, and headache in the early stages. Later, it can cause a skin rash, abdominal pain, joint pain and diarrhea.
Signs of a Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever infection include fever, rash, and a history of tick bites.
Several types of ticks found in Eastern Oregon can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever as well as other diseases. The American Dog Tick also carries Tularemia, and the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick also transmits Colorado tick fever, tick relapsing fever, and Tularemia. It can also cause partial paralysis, and a tick must be removed as soon as paralysis happens, or it can be life-threatening.
The Morrow County Health Department warned residents that because of the mild winter, ticks are more abundant, and showing up earlier than usual.
They said ticks can be so small that they can be nearly impossible to see without a magnifying class. Often, hunters will find ticks on recently killed game, or on dogs or rodents. The health department noted that after an animal has died, a tick will leave that host to seek a live host, often a human.
To avoid ticks, when walking through thick vegetation, wear a heavy-duty tick repellent and long pants tucked into boots. To remove a tick, have another person use tweezers or foreceps, grasp the mouth or head of the tick as close to the skin as possible, and gently pull it straight out. Wash hands and apply antiseptic to the area immediately afterward.