Warning: 2017 Tick Season May Be Worst In Years

PHOTO: Adult Deer Tick, United States Dept. of Agriculture
PHOTO: Adult Deer Tick, United States Dept. of Agriculture

On the heels of an extremely warm winter, many scientists are fearful that 2017 may shape out to be one of the worst years for ticks and tick bites in recent memory.

Though ticks are generally able to bury themselves deep under leaves and soil to shield themselves from even the harshest of winters, the extended periods of mild and warm weather throughout this past winter has allowed the bloodsucking arthropods an opportunity to remain active far longer than normal — providing increased opportunities for ticks to expand their numbers before going dormant.

Event worse, this problem has been compounded due to the very wet spring most locations throughout the East Coast have experienced.  During a year with very little precipitation most ticks may die following feeding because they lose water regulatory control; however, extended periods of wetness will save many ticks from what should have been a likely demise.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Tickborne diseases are on the rise and prevention should be on everyone’s mind, particularly during the spring, summer, and early-fall when ticks are most active. From May through July, people will get more tick bites and tickborne diseases than any other time of year in the United States.”

Due to these facts, it is especially important for individuals who may be outside for any length of time to take special steps to protect themselves from ticks during what is expected to be one of the worst tick seasons we’ve seen in roughly a decade.

Studies suggest that about 300,000 Americans are actually diagnosed with Lyme disease each year. Despite these numbers, a recent national survey reported that nearly 20 percent of people surveyed in areas where Lyme disease is common were unaware that it was a risk.

“People should be aware that ticks could be in the areas where they live, work and play. Everyone should take steps to help protect themselves and their loved ones, including pets, While not all ticks carry the same diseases, ticks can be found in every state,” stated the CDC in a post made on Thursday.

Taking steps to protect yourself and your family from getting a tick bite is the best defense against Lyme disease and other tickborne infections. Whether you’re working, enjoying your yard, camping, hiking, hunting or otherwise in the outdoors, CDC recommends that people:

  • Avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter and walk in the center of trails when hiking.
  • Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours.
  • Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents or look for clothing pre-treated with permethrin.
  • Treat dogs for ticks. Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and to some tickborne diseases. They may also bring ticks into your home. Tick collars, sprays, shampoos, or monthly “top spot” medications help protect against ticks.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off and more easily find crawling ticks before they bite you.
  • Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon returning from tick-infested areas. Parents should help children check thoroughly for ticks. Remove any ticks right away.
  • Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed.

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