Tick season in Florida: How to keep you, your family and your pets safe

ORLANDO, Fla. — Spring and summer are the most common seasons for diseases cased by tick bites, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Florida has several species of ticks and not all of their bites cause disease.

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According to researchers at the University of Florida, there are several diseases that people can contract from ticks in Florida, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Rickettsia parkeri, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness or STARI, and Lyme disease.

Researches said symptoms for these diseases may include rash, muscle pain, weakness and fever. Depending on the disease, it may take several weeks for symptoms to appear, so people who are bitten by a tick are asked to contact a doctor.

The tick species found in Florida are brown dog tick, American dog tick, lone star tick, Gulf Coast tick and the black-legged tick (or deer tick). Doctors say deer ticks are most likely to carry Lyme disease.

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Ticks in the state can typically be found on long grass and in wooded areas, research shows.

Health department officials said ticks must feed for several hours to transmit diseases, so quick and safe removal is critical when exposed to them.

Experts say to remove a tick, you need to grasp it on its mouth with tweezers and pull it straight out with firm pressure.

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People in rural areas or with outdoor pets should check them for ticks often.

Wearing light-colored and long sleeves with jeans and hats can help to prevent a tick bite.

More information on tick-borne diseases can be found here.