Tick-related illnesses nearly triple from 2010

(WMC-TV) – The number of tick-related illnesses is on the rise.

The Arkansas Department of Health warns that the number of illnesses caused by tick bites in 2011 tripled that of those reported in 2010. Because of the number of illnesses that go unreported, that number could be even higher.

If left untreated, the infections can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

"Tick-related illnesses are serious and can be deadly if not treated properly," advises Dirk Haselow, M.D., Arkansas Department of Health.

Haselow stresses the importance of people seeking treatment if they are ill. He also says that tick-related illnesses can be prevented if people are aware of the risks and take precautions.

Some simple steps that can be taken against tick-related illnesses include using insect repellent, removing the tick promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat.