Time To Start Checking For Ticks
With spring in the air and the weather warming, the highest risk time for tick bites and tickborne diseases is here. Most Minnesotans who contract tickborne diseases are bitten by ticks from mid-May to mid-July.
The blacklegged tick, commonly known as the “deer” tick, is the most important of the dozen different types of ticks in Minnesota. The blacklegged tick transmits at least seven different disease agents to Minnesotans including the agents of: Lyme disease (caused by two different bacteria), anaplasmosis, babesiosis, one form of ehrlichiosis, hard tick relapsing fever, and Powassan virus disease.
Blacklegged ticks have expanded their range within the state to include most of the forested regions of Minnesota. At the same time, the number of reported cases of tickborne diseases has increased dramatically during the last 20 years. The northeastern two thirds of the state is now considered high risk for tickborne diseases.
The best way to avoid tickborne illness is to avoid being bitten by ticks. Those who live in or visit wooded parts of Minnesota, especially during the spring and early summer, should take steps to avoid bites:
- Wear EPA-approved insect repellents and follow the manufacturer’s directions for application.
- Do frequent tick checks, looking at your body and clothes for ticks that are attached or crawling on you, especially in hard-to-see areas (e.g. behind knees, groin area, and arm pits).
- Remove any attached ticks you find on yourself as soon as possible. Grasp the tick with fingers or tweezers and pull outward slowly, gently and steadily.
Contact your doctor if you become sick (e.g., fever, rash, muscle and joint aches) within a month of a tick bite or visit to wooded areas.
For more prevention tips, print materials, videos, and more, check out www.health.state.mn.us/ticks.