Experts Warn Michigan Could See an Uptick in Ticks This Year
While winter seems to be hanging out for a bit longer than most of us would like, warmer weather is right around the corner. There are so many great things about summer in West Michigan - hitting up the beaches, festivals, outdoor concerts - there's also at least one NOT great thing: Ticks.
Tick Season is Almost Here
According to WXYZ, experts are warning that tick season could be worse this year in Michigan.
Howard Russell, an entomologist at Michigan State University says that in most of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, ticks only really started popping up about 15 to 20 years ago.
Warming trends continue to bring ticks further and further north.
Russell tells WXYZ,
We saw a dramatic increase in deer ticks, the one that causes Lyme disease over a period of time. I’ve already had a few reports and photographers of people who have found ticks on their kids or on themselves.
What Kind of Diseases Can Ticks Carry?
Ticks in Michigan may carry diseases that cause illness in humans and animals, such as:
- Anaplasmosis, which is caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum and is transmitted by the bite of an infected tick. The disease is characterized by fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches.
- Babesiosis, a tick-borne disease that is caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells.
- Lyme disease, which is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Typical clinical signs include flu-like symptoms however, if left untreated may spread to joints, the heart, and/or the nervous system.
You can find more from the Michigan DNR on diseases spread by ticks.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself From Ticks?
Russell tells WXYZ that prevention is the best way to protect your family and animals.
You can treat your pets with medication, and repellents are recommended before you and your family go outside. The Michigan DNR recommends repellents with no more than 30 percent DEET.
Russell recommends tick inspections after time outside:
Conduct very thorough tick inspections at the end of the day. Check the kids out, check yourselves out and remove them when you find them. I recommend tweezers — grab it where it’s attached to the skin and pull it off.
Once removed, clean the area with alcohol. If you have symptoms of fever, rash, body aches or fatigue, see your doctor.
You can send a picture of the tick to the Michigan DNR, who will do their best to identify if it is a species of tick that marry carry diseases.
See Michigan's five most common ticks here.
You can find more information on tick prevention and how to remove them from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services here.