CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As families head outdoors to enjoy fall festivities, state health officials are reminding everyone that ticks are still lurking.

In fact, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says tick-borne illnesses can occur year-round in North Carolina, adding that cases have been steadily increasing since 2009.

They say the most common type of tick-borne illness found in the Piedmont region is Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In 2016, health officials said RMSF comprised 86-percent of all tick-borne related diseases reported in North Carolina.

Typical symptoms include fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, and muscle pain. A rash may also develop but is often absent in the first few days; some patients never develop a rash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To protect yourselves and your children, doctors recommend using a bug repellent with Deet.

They also say that when you come back inside, you should check yourself and your children from head-to-toe, paying particular attention to your child’s head. If you find a tick, doctors say you should remove it immediately with tweezers by pulling gently as close to the tick’s head as possible.

Experts say the shorter the time a tick is embedded, the less-likely a disease will be transmitted.

If you or your child does show symptoms, health officials say you should see a doctor immediately, warning that RMSF can be deadly, especially in children younger than 8 years old. Doctors say the illness can be treated with an antibiotic.