Local News

Clock Ticking on a Possible Pest Comeback

Posted March 18, 2008 5:50 p.m. EDT
Updated March 19, 2008 6:51 p.m. EDT

Ticks may be making a return to North Carolina.

Thanks to the drought, Carolina has had somewhat of a break the last couple years. With recent rains, however, that may not be case this year.

Veterinarians are getting a sneak peak at what this year's tick season may bring.

Routine pet checkups take on a different tone when the weather gets warmer.

“Once spring season starts to warm up, the ticks really come out,” veterinarian Lee Darch said.

Veterinarians say they've seen a " bloom"' in the tick population during the past two weeks. They have to be extra careful now when checking the spots on pets where ticks hang out.

About one dog, Darch said she “started doing his physical and noticed in his ears, even in his armpits, little auxiliary areas ... just hundreds of ticks already, just little tiny ticks.”

Vets stress prevention. Collars and medicine often do the trick.

Faye Atkins hasn't had her 4-month-old beagle for too long and doesn't want to waste any time keeping the pup healthy.

“As soon as they're old enough and the vet says it's time,” she starts prevention, she said.

It’s possible that family pets still have an ally on their side in the weather.

Ticks thrive in grounds that are moist. In the middle of a drought, North Carolina's terrain is anything but. It is less parched recently, however, and the drought's impact remains to be seen.

Still, area animal clinics still find themselves preparing for the tick numbers to rise.

“Now, the next few weeks ... we'll really start to see tick numbers increase,” Darch predicted.

The checkups continue, with vets and pet owners keeping a close eye on man's best friend man’s best friend’s worst enemy.

Ticks matter to humans, too, of course. Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are spread through ticks. Doctors say removing a tick early can help prevent the spread of disease.