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In Oklahoma, tick dangers rise during summer

Ticks can be a risk to people during the summer months. Oklahomans can be bitten by disease-carrying ticks, experts warn.
by Robert Medley Modified: July 12, 2013 at 6:00 pm •  Published: July 11, 2013

Apesky little parasite can cause big problems for people and pets.

It's summer in Oklahoma, when bloodsucking ticks pose the greatest health risk.

More cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever — one disease spread by ticks — are seen in Oklahoma from April through September, said Justin Talley, an entomologist at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.

Additional rainfall this year, compared with the past several years, has helped the tick population increase.

Lyme disease, also spread by ticks, is not as common in Oklahoma, Talley said. But it has been reported here.

A Perkins man said he has been battling chronic Lyme disease for eight years.

Danny Bryant, 57, found the head of a tick embedded in his abdomen in 2005 after working outside. The concrete worker, who lives in a rural area, started suffering from vision and balance problems, as well as chronic fatigue.

Doctors did not agree what the cause was, but a Stillwater doctor prescribed antibiotics used to treat Lyme disease. That worked.

But when he stopped taking the antibiotics, Bryant suffered recurrences of the symptoms, including joint and muscle aches.

His wife, Kaye Escott, 58, asked doctors to keep treating her husband for Lyme disease.

Now Bryant is on a long-term antibiotic and has improved. He has been able to return to work outdoors in the heat this summer.

“I'm 75 percent to 100 percent healthy today,” Bryant said.

“Lyme disease is real in Oklahoma,” Escott said. “It's not just in the northeast. It can be spread here.”

Dr. Bob Welliver, at OU Medical Center, said Rocky Mountain spotted fever causes a red rash, which clears up after a few days of antibiotic treatment if it is caught early. Welliver treated a child for the disease last summer.

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by Robert Medley
Breaking News Reporter
Robert Medley has been a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1989, covering various news beats in the Oklahoma City metro area and in the Norman news bureau. He has been part of the breaking news team since 2008. A 1987 University of Oklahoma...
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