It's tick season. They're everywhere and not afraid to crawl on anybody or anything. But that doesn't make them quite the reason to panic that people may think.

Sue Ivankovich, physicians assistant at Essentia Health St. Mary's, said that Urgent Care has been seeing about seven people a day with tick concerns -- many of which are unnecessary.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

"I think it's the hype. People are scared to death," she said. "It's tick season and people should have a heightened awareness but not (to the extreme)."

Everyone has heard that deer ticks carry Lyme's disease and therefore, many people fear that a tick on them means they will be sick soon. Ivankovich said she's actually only seen one case of Lyme's disease so far this year.

Besides Lyme's disease, there are three other diseases ticks can carry, the most frequent being anaplasmosis, which is seen in Minnesota.

The others are babesiosis (primarily found in the eastern United States) and ehrlichiosis (primarily found in the south central and eastern United States).

There are several signs people should look for before rushing to the doctor with a tick. One of the most ignored is that the tick must have been attached for at least 36 hours.

To be treated, the tick must also be a deer tick -- not a wood tick, which is larger in size -- and be removed less than 72 hours earlier.

There can be noticeable symptoms if a deer tick carrying a disease has bitten someone. A rash, body aches and fever are indicators and should be taken as a reason to go to the doctor. These symptoms can occur within 30 days of the tick having burrowed in.

"There are early warning signs. It's not like they just get anaplasmosis overnight," Ivankovich said.

One patient who knows all about that is Jason Seely. Last July, after spending lots of time in a grassy, wooded area clearing land to build a house, he started to feel achy but didn't think of ticks at the time.

In fact he went to the doctor several different times, describing the pain, but the antibiotics doctors put him on only made him feel worse.

He went in once again and saw Ivankovich, who knew instantly what he had.

"She nailed it on the head," he said. "Right when I came in and told her my symptoms, she started nodding her head right away like she knew what it was almost immediately. I don't think I had met with her for even a couple minutes and she had me in the lab."

And thinking back, that made perfect sense with being outside at his land and having plenty of ticks.

"It definitely put me down for a week or two. I could barely move and barely stand up. Couldn't eat. It was a pretty bad deal," he said.

Ivankovich said that it's usually true that it's the unfound tick that causes the most problems, not the one a person picks off -- and brings to the doctor with them.

It's not necessary for people to bring the tick to the doctor with them. The clinic cares for the person, not to diagnose the tick in the baggie.

This spring, Seely said he and his family are much more careful when they're out in the woods -- long clothes, socks over the pant legs, spray repellent, etc.

But even with all those precautions, Seely's daughter had to visit Ivankovich with a tick this summer as well.

"She had a tick in her ear and we got it out of her ear, but her ear really flamed up," he said.

Ivankovich treated Seely's daughter, and she never had to go through the muscle aches and pain he did.

"We took her in just based one what happened to me the year before," he said.

So there are cases when people should come into the doctor with tick-related illnesses, it's just knowing when. Ivankovich came up with her own acronym for just that reason:

"People need to go to a medical provider if DEER.

iDentify the tick as a Deer tick and,

Exposure is 36 hours or longer or,

Extreme muscle or joint aches or,

Rash develops, specifically a red rash with central clearing (bullseye)."