Recent warmth and moderate rainfall have increased the number of ticks hiding in tall grasses and wooded areas.
The concern is that the number of cases of Lyme disease has increased sharply in Ohio in the past five years–from around 40 to 119 last year–that were reported to the Ohio Department of Health.
Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are among several tick-borne illnesses transmitted by the bite of an infected tick. The population of blacklegged “deer” ticks has exploded in recent years in eastern Ohio, traveling westward from the Northeast.
Symptoms of Lyme disease initially show up as a bulls-eye rash, though if very small or on the back could easily be missed. More prominent symptoms, if not treated promptly with antibiotics, include lethargy, joint swelling and pain, low grade fever, and even neurological symptoms.
The best advice from naturalists at our local Metro Parks is to use 25 percent Deet repellent, and wear light-colored clothing so ticks show up easily. Tucking in pant legs also prevents ticks from working in around your socks.
Also check your pets if they spend time outdoors. Pets (dogs and cats) should have tick and flea prevention, but consult your veterinarian first, since some preventives can be dangerous if administered improperly.