Tiny ticks packing a powerful punch in Oklahoma

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OKLAHOMA CITY - All it takes is one bite from a tiny tick to become ill.

Oklahoma health authorities are warning residents about Lyme disease.

While the disease is not usually a problem in Oklahoma, it is becoming more prevalent in the Sooner State.

Alicia Meadows, with the Oklahoma City- County Health Department, says the problems rarely start here.

"Folks that have traveled in states northern in the Midwest, Missouri, maybe Kansas, Illinois, some of those areas might be somewhere you would be exposed to a tick carrying Lyme disease, and then returning to Oklahoma," Meadows said.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, over 90 percent of Lyme disease cases are reported in northern portions of the United States.

But here in Oklahoma, officials say they have discovered a few ticks infected with Lyme disease.

Now, they are warning Oklahomans to be on alert for symptoms of the disease.

"A rash with sort of a bulls eye center, that can develop and expand into some flu-like symptoms, anywhere from three to 30 days, " Meadows said.

And unlike the flu, Lyme disease doesn't go away with time.

"Untreated, these symptoms can become pretty severe. They can result in skin, neurological, all kinds of difficulties," Meadows said.

However, there is good news for anyone who becomes infected.

"It is very treatable with antibiotics, it can be very well managed," Meadows said.

The disease is also preventable.

"Your first step is to prevent it entirely using a DEET repellent. You don't want to walk bare legged through tall grass. Wearing light colored clothing would be an easy way to identify and spot ticks that have been on your body," Meadows said.

If you spot one of these ticks on you, here's the most important thing to remember.

"Using tweezers, making sure you get right at the root and at the head, to make sure you pull that tick out in its entirety," Meadows said.

In most cases, it takes 36 to 48 hours for a tick to transfer Lyme disease.

If you spot a tick, get it off as soon as possible.

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