POWHATAN, AR (KAIT) -
The cool, refreshing water of Lake Charles is one popular weekend get-away in Region 8 when the weather gets too hot.
While it may be a destination for reunions, fishing, and camping...ticks are lurking in the underbrush to prey on these unsuspecting patrons.
These parasites were out early this year due to a lack of a killing frost, but Park Superintendent Randall Watts says they're just a part of summertime we'll have to deal with.
"You're going to pick those up anytime you get off the beaten trail. Any place that's not maintained. When you get away from places that are mowed, any structure where the tick can climb up."
Watts says the symptoms are clear shortly after the bite.
You may notice an itching, burning redness at the site.
But, ticks do not cause serious health problems in most cases, so remove the tick as close to the skin as possible with a pair of tweezers, then apply a topical ointment after washing the site.
"Benedryl or anything to relieve that itching or swelling, those are always good."
Occasionally, a tick bite can trigger an allergic reaction or infection, such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
These develop with flu-like symptoms and may not appear up to three weeks after the bite.
"If your tick bite looks like it has a bullseye in the center, then that's going to be a warning sign to you. That's a good sign to go see your physician."Fortunately, there are ways to stay safe during the summer camping season.
"Make sure you apply a good quality insect repellant. And reapply it as necessary according to the directions. Wear long pants. Then, whenever you come in from the outdoors, make sure you check yourself over."
Despite hot weather and the amount of pests, park officials are thrilled to report that visitors are up 3% over last year.
For more information about ticks and tick-related illness, click here.