The first local human case of anaplasmosis, a tick-borne disease, was reported this month in Washington state.

The case was discovered on Aug. 8 after a Whatcom County man in his 80s was hospitalized with severe disease after working in a brush in Mason County, according to the Washington State Department of Health. The man, likely bitten by an infected tick, is recovering.

While human cases of anaplasmosis have been identified in the state before, this is the first case that did not involve travel outside of Washington. There have been cases of dogs diagnosed with anaplasmosis after being bit within the state, DOH said.

In humans, symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches and nausea and typically begin within one to two weeks of a tick bite. There is no vaccine to prevent the disease, which is treatable with antibiotics, according to DOH.

The disease is spread by the western blacklegged tick, which is found in the western parts of the state and along the eastern slopes of the Cascades.

“Not all tick bites will cause disease,” said Washington state epidemiologist Scott Lindquist in a news release. “However, people across Washington are at risk for tick-borne illnesses and should take precautions to prevent tick bites.”

How to prevent tick bites in people and pets

  • If possible, avoid wooded and brush areas with tall grass and fallen leaves. These are tick friendly habitats
  • When in these areas, wear light-colored clothing, long-sleeved shirts and pants so ticks can be easily spotted
  • Apply insect repellent to clothing and skin
  • Check yourself, friends and pets for ticks and shower after being outdoors to rinse off unattached ticks

What to do if you find an attached tick

Don’t panic or listen to folklore remedies like hot matches or soap. According to DOH, these methods can make the situation worse by irritating the tick and causing it to release more saliva.

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible
  • Pull upward with steady pressure
  • Don’t twist or jerk the tick; its mouthparts might break off and stay in your skin
  • If the mouth breaks off and you can still remove it, do so with clean tweezers. Otherwise, leave it alone and allow your skin to heal
  • Clean the bit area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water
  • If you develop a rash, fever or flu symptoms, see a health care provider
  • If needed, save the tick in a crush-proof container and follow instructions so DOH can identify the tick species