Warmth May Advance Tick Season, Increase Numbers

By Jillian MacMath, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
3/26/2012 10:27:59 AM

The warm weather isn't just bringing plants and flowers out of hibernation early, it has ticks "coming out of the woodwork" as well.

While many people venture out to enjoy the sunshine and unseasonable warmth, it is important to be mindful of more than just spring pollen allergies: ticks are already out in full swing.

Much like flowers, ticks and other insects thrive when temperatures turn warmer.


Photo from Photos.com

The good news is that colder air is on the way for the Great Lakes, Northeast, eastern Ohio Valley and Canada, which could stifle their activity temporarily.

But without a freeze or sudden temperature drop, it could be a very active season for ticks, which are notorious for their potential to cause the serious and, if undetected, life-threatening condition, Lyme disease.

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Lyme disease is transmitted through a bite from an infected tick, which carries the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), typical symptoms of Lyme include: fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash. "If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system," the CDC's website reads.

The same pests that carry Lyme disease, however, are also capable of passing on Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other nasty infections.

Though the CDC typically recommends being particularly vigilant April through September when ticks are most active, this year could be an exception as record highs for the month of March have been recorded in several parts of the U.S.

To prevent contact with ticks, the CDC recommends staying away from wooded and bushy areas that have high grass and leaf litter. When hiking, stay in the center of trails and out of the brush.

To repel the blood-thirsty critters, use products that contain 20 percent or more DEET and treat clothing and gear with a product that contains the repellent permethrin.

After coming indoors, always bathe or shower as soon as possible and conduct a tick check. Ticks will commonly gravitate to warm areas such as under the arms, in and around the ears, behind the knees and in hair.

Be sure to examine pets and gear, as well.