If you think the ticks are worse this year, you are correct. The conditions have been optimal for the tick population. This summer, the Northeast is ground zero for Lyme disease with predictions citing above average tick populations.
Tick season usually begins when the weather starts to get warmer, and the dormant ticks start to look for food. In Southern Maryland, that is generally in late-March to early-April. Tick season ends when the temperatures drop below freezing.
This year the conditions here have been ideal for the ticks. A mild winter, a damp spring and a humid summer are making this year one of the worst ever. “I have never seen them like this,” said Charlotte Hall resident and Mom, Heather Malpasso. “We went camping in Welcome and I picked about a dozen off my husband and my kids.”
Ticks can usually be anywhere outside, but are worse in wooded places, tall grasses and ground leaves.
Both nymphs and adults can transmit Lyme disease. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, “some of the most common tick-borne diseases in the United States include Lyme disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, anaplasmosis, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever, and tularemia.”
Ticks generally found in our area include the Deer Tick, Brown Dog Tick, American Dog Tick, and the Lone Star Tick. (see pictures)
To protect yourself, the CDC advises the following:
- Wear a hat and light-colored clothing (so ticks can be easily spotted), including long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into boots or socks.
- Use insect repellents. Use repellents containing 20–50% DEET on exposed skin and clothing. Reapply repellents as needed. (Always follow product labels).
- Use insecticides such as Permethrin for greater protection. Permethrin can be used on clothing, but not on skin. One application to pants, socks, and shoes may be effective through several washings.
- Check skin and clothing for ticks daily. Check hair, underarms, and groin.
- Immediately remove ticks using fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick firmly, as close to your skin as possible. Pull the tick’s body away from your skin with a steady motion. Clean the area with soap and water.
- Wash and dry clothes using the “hot” settings to kill any ticks present.
Most people with tick bites do not develop any symptoms after removing the tick. However, some symptoms that require medical attention are:
- swelling at bite site or swelling of lymph nodes
- stiff neck or back
- headache or fever
- shortness of breath
- muscle or joint aches
Every year we hear that it is going to be a bad year for ticks. This year, it looks like this prediction is coming true.