LIVINGSTON COUNTY — The season of walks through the woods and afternoons at the dog park is in full swing and with that, unfortunately, comes ticks.
Tick Awareness in Livingston County
The Livingston County Health Department has been placing an emphasis on educating the public about ticks for the last couple of years. The county is known to have a risk of Lyme disease, according to a map from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Heather Blair, director of environmental health at LCHD, said that with the increased education, the department has had increased surveillance, which may be part of the reason there seems to be an increase in ticks this season.
Reasons for Increased Tick Activity
“I would say there’s definitely an increase in the amount of (tick) activity, it could be due to a variety of things,” Blair said. “It could be due to the education, we’ve done a lot more public education regarding ticks in the area and Lyme disease. So people (have) just become more aware of such.
“We do a lot of posts on our Facebook and social media pages and also just people being out and about, visiting and traveling to different areas, maybe new locations, trying out parks, trying out different activities, biking, boating, fishing.”
Types of Ticks and Lyme Disease
There are two types of ticks Livingston County residents should keep an eye out for, Blair said. The first is the black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick, which is known for carrying Lyme disease.
According to the Center for Disease Control, black-legged ticks are active all year, including in winter when temperatures are above freezing, but the most prevalent time to find them is spring, summer and fall.
Lyme disease can be spread from a tick that has attached itself to a host. If a tick is removed within 24 hours, the risk of contracting Lyme disease is usually greatly reduced, although Blair said it is best to remove ticks as soon as possible.
Preventing Tick Bites
To do this, there are tools like tick removal cards available for purchase, but a pair of tweezers or even a credit card can work well for dislodging them.
“When you’re out in the woods and out in grassy areas, when you come inside, check your body for ticks, check your clothing for ticks. Some people opt to wear repellents,” Blair said. “There is DEET (an ingredient in bug repellent) that’s approved to be worn and has been effective against ticks and also wearing long sleeves, long pants when you’re out in wooded areas.”
Ticks and Pets
The other type of tick to be aware of is dog ticks, which wait on blades of grass and low vegetation for animals to brush against them and attach themselves. Dogs can be impacted by dog ticks and black-legged ticks.
There are various medications available to prevent ticks, but if one is found on a dog, their owner should use gloves and a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to remove it, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.
— Contact reporter Tess Ware email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @tess_journalist.