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A warm, humid spring brings more ticks, more Lyme disease in Ohio



CLEVELAND, Ohio – Ohio is experiencing a rise in Lyme disease, which is transmitted by ticks, and this is why the wine is mild and humid weather this spring.

As more people and their pets go outside, they are more likely to catch ticks, especially in wooded or weedy areas.

“As for this year, we’ve had a pretty comfortable spring and lots of rain and ticks,”

; said Richard Gary, a state entomologist in public health at the Ohio Department of Health. “To thrive, ticks need moisture, so the conditions are pretty good for ticks.”

Lyme disease has been on the rise in Ohio for the past 10 years, as has the number of infected ticks with black legs or deer that spread the disease to humans, Gary said.

This trend continues. By the spring of last year, about 42 cases of Lyme had been reported. So far this year, there are 64 cases, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Public health officials reported about 400 cases of Lyme disease in 2020.

Lyme disease causes fever, headache, fatigue and skin rash. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system. About 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported annually at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But other CDC estimates, based on alternative tracking methods, suggest that about 476,000 Americans suffer from Lyme disease each year.

Ticks also spread fever in the Rocky Mountains.

“There are a lot of ticks now, and there are a lot of different diseases that they (spread),” said Tim McDermott, an OSU extension professor based in Franklin County. “They are all bad and can have a profound effect on you and your family.”

Two species of ticks, new to Ohio, have been spotted in some regions of the state. This increases the number of tick species found in Ohio to five – and they all affect the health of humans, pets and livestock.

You know how to minimize the chance that you, your family and pets will encounter an infected tick this summer. Here is information about tick habitats, Lyme disease, how deer spread ticks and more. Information is from Gary, McDermott, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and ODH.

What Types of Ticks Are Found in Ohio?

The American dog tick, the black-legged tick, and the lone star tick are among the most common ticks in Ohio, and people and pets are more likely to collide. These three species are responsible for almost all tick-borne diseases reported to public health officials.

In 2020, two new ticks were discovered in Ohio. Both the Gulf Coast and invasive Asian elongated ticks have been found in other regions of the state, but tick experts expect these species to spread to northeastern Ohio.

Did a recent study find ticks on the beaches?

Disease-carrying ticks, often associated with wooded areas, are also very close to beaches in Northern California, a recent study found. The findings emphasize that ticks are more widespread than is commonly thought.

Ticks are not found on the beach, but in the vegetation through which beachgoers can pass to reach the beach.

Researchers at Colorado State University led the study, which was recently published in the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

The study’s findings were surprising in part because western gray squirrels, which are the predominant source of tick infection in the region, are not common in coastal areas.

The study in Northern California does not apply to Ohio, as it examines species of ticks and hosts that are not found here, Gary said.

Where do ticks often occur?

The black-legged tick prefers wooded areas, while the American tick prefers meadows, grassy areas and road edges.

All ticks are usually found in leaf litter, to trails that wild animals use. That is why it is important for tourists to avoid walking in off-road areas, leaf litter in the woods and tall weeds.

When are ticks most active?

Ticks are less active in cold weather and more active in the warmer months. They do not die in the winter; they go into sleep mode. The American dog tick is active until August.

“Usually when it gets very hot and dry in the summer, they kind of disappear for a while, but then they come back in the fall,” Gary said.

What is the connection between deer and ticks?

Ticks prefer to feed on deer, and deer contribute to the spread of ticks. “If you have an adult tick that feeds on deer, it can feed for a week and be in a completely different place before that tick separates and lays eggs,” McDermott said.

ODH diagram

This chart from the Ohio Department of Health shows different stages in the life cycle of ticks and when most cases of Lyme disease have been reported. Ticks spread diseases through their bites.

Tips to prevent tick bites

Avoid wooded and bushy places with tall grass and leaf litter. Take a walk in the center of the paths.

Use a tick repellent and read the instructions for proper use. You can also use a tick repellent for pets.

Put your shirt in your pants and your pants in your socks or boots.

After spending time outdoors, check yourself, your family and your pets for ticks. If you find it, use tweezers to carefully remove the tick. It takes 36-48 hours for a tick-borne disease to be transmitted to a person, but it can happen earlier.

Hunters should check the carcasses of deer and squirrels for ticks and check your skin after working with carcasses. You can’t get Lyme disease from deer or squirrel meat, but always cook meat thoroughly.

Put your clothes on the dryer for about 10 minutes to kill ticks, or wash your clothes in hot water.

Ask your veterinarian about Lyme vaccines for pets, where black-legged ticks are found.

Create a tick safety zone in your yard.

Resources

Information on tick species, tick-borne diseases, and images of common ticks at different stages of life.

Lyme disease and ticks

Map and statistics for Lyme disease in Ohio

Prevent ticks in yards

Teak Identification Guide

Ticks in Ohio

Tips to prevent tick bites


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