Tick season is officially here. And according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, summer 2017 is going to be our biggest tick-fest ever recorded.

Due to a recent surge of white-footed mice (notorious for carrying Lyme disease, the Powassan virus, and other tick-related illnesses) and warmer winters, ticks are remaining active for longer periods of time, allowing unusual diseases to make their way into new regions of the U.S.

Health professionals are advising those who live in regions where tick-related diseases are most prevalent — the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and the upper Midwest – to read-up on common tick misconceptions and the best practices to avoid getting bit.

Black-legged ticks are common carriers of anaplasmosis, Lyme disease, the Powassan virus, and babesiosis. Black-legged ticks are most active between May and July and can have life cycles up to two to three years.

Director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, Theodore G. Andreadis, says his organization has collected an unusually high number of samples this year, a “concerning” number of which have tested positive for disease-causing organisms.

“With the mild winter, we had ticks being brought into our lab for testing as early as February,” Andreadis said. “And the number we’re seeing in our laboratory are at least tenfold higher than we’ve seen in recent years.”

According to Andreadis, 38 to 40 percent of the ticks tested in his lab test positive for a type of bacteria that carries Lyme disease. That’s 7 to 8 percent more than usual.

Lyme disease can cause facial paralysis, skin rash, and swollen knees. If left untreated, Lyme disease can progress and cause serious complications such as heart rhythm irregularities, memory problems, and chronic arthritis.

“We’ve got a combination of a higher number of ticks and a higher prevalence of these infectious agents,” Andreadis added. “We really want the public to use some precautions. We got a lot of ticks out there – that’s the bottom line. And we haven’t even reached peak season yet.”

If you’re planning on spending a lot of time outdoors this summer, be sure to check everywhere (underarms, between your toes, and every unmentionable zone) for these pesky insects. 

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