Prepare Now: What to Know About Tick, Lyme Season Following a Mild Winter

by Joshua Brown
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The U.S. has had a mild winter, which might mean more ticks this year than usual. This could lead to more people getting Lyme disease and other diseases from ticks because of the early snow melting and warmer weather. Scientists have said that it’s hard to tell for sure though.

This year, in Connecticut there are tons of ticks everywhere! Already, over 700 ticks have been sent in to the testing program which is way more than what they usually get (200-300). Moreover, this state gets a lot of Lyme disease which actually got its name from a town in Connecticut. According to Goudarz Molaei (a tick expert for the state), it looks like it is going to be an “above average” year for the amount of ticks and illnesses they bring.

Ticks can spread different kinds of bacteria, viruses and parasites that make people sick. A really common infection called Lyme disease makes a lot of Americans ill; it mostly affects people in the Northeast and Midwest. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half a million people get diagnosed with Lyme disease every year! Different types of ticks carry microbes that cause other illnesses too – like babesiosis or Powassan virus disease. The lone star tick mainly lives in southern, eastern, and midwestern states, while American dog ticks are known for carrying Rocky Mountain spotted fever. All these diseases come from infected wildlife – usually mice or squirrels – when the ticks bite them.

Do you know when tick season is?

Tick season usually starts around April and goes until October. They’re usually inactive in winter, but may still be active on warm days. Memorial Day is often seen as the start of tick season because that’s when people in cold-weather states start going outdoors more often. We tend to see most Lyme Disease cases between June, July, and August, although April and May may still have a few cases.

Dr. Bobbi Pritt from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota said that this year, tiny ticks -which look like poppy seeds – could be out and biting people soon because of the mild winter. This means it might be a bad season for tick-borne diseases.

Government officials who track diseases are finding it difficult to determine how much tick-borne illnesses there will be since the amount of ticks in each area differs and doctors do not always accurately report or test cases. The weather also plays a role. Hot and wet weather is good for ticks, but extremely hot temperatures can kill them off. It’s best to just assume that every year could be a “bad tick year”, which would mean more ticks than usual.

Are you worried about ticks? Don’t worry! There are ways to protect yourself from tick bites. According to the CDC’s advice, it helps to treat your clothing with special solutions containing 0.5% permethrin. Be extra careful in places like woods and grassy areas where ticks usually live. Using Insect Repellents and regularly checking your body for any ticks will also do the trick. Lastly, if possible, making sure you wear clothes which covers most parts of your body will help prevent any unwanted tick bites.

Lyme disease is an illness that usually gives you a fever, chills, tiredness and sore muscles and joints. It can be taken care of with antibiotics, but if the treatment is not done, it can become worse and lead to problems with the heart or even very painful symptoms. In America there isn’t yet a vaccine for people to prevent getting this disease, but scientists are testing one right now.

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