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Mild Winter Means Heavy Tick Season

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

Ticks like warm, wet weather like that in the Triangle Thursday. Anyonewho plans to be outdoors in that kind of weather would be wise to takesome precautions against the parasitic pests. They're small, but they cancause big problems.

Last year, there were 66 cases of Lyme disease and 289 cases of RockyMountain Spotted Fever in the state. State Entomologist Barry Engbersays the odds of contracting one of thesediseases 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 preventpet infestation, which can cut down chances of human infestation.

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

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

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

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