Local News

Mild Winter Means Heavy Tick Season

Posted April 17, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Beware the enemy lurking in the grass. Scientists at North Carolina State say our mild winter means tick season is already getting underway.

Ticks like warm, wet weather like that in the Triangle Thursday. Anyone who plans to be outdoors in that kind of weather would be wise to take some precautions against the parasitic pests. They're small, but they can cause big problems.

Last year, there were 66 cases of Lyme disease and 289 cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in the state. State Entomologist Barry Engber says the odds of contracting one of these diseases are low, but the consequences could be serious.

Ticks flourish in brushy, shaded, damp areas. They also prey on pets.

Dr. Joe Gordon, veterinarian, says there are lots of ways to prevent pet infestation, which can cut down chances of human infestation.

Dr. Gordon suggests that you check your pets frequently, whether they're otherwise protected or not.

Both animals and humans can catch tick-borne diseases. The most common symptoms are flu-like and include a rash and fever. Engber says if you have any of those symptoms and you know you've come into contact with a tick, you should be concerned and seek medical help.

A strong insect repellent is recommended if you spend much time outdoors between now and the end of summer. Wear light-colored clothing so you can spot ticks before they bite, keep shirt-tails tucked in and skin covered. If you do find a tick, on yourself or your pet, remove it immediately with tweezers or your fingers.