Protect yourself with these tips Tick season has arrived 2024

Protect yourself with these tips Tick season

Tick season is commencing throughout the United States, with experts cautioning that these bloodsucking parasites could be just as abundant as in previous years.

According to some researchers, the combination of another mild winter and other favourable conditions suggests that the tick season population in 2024 is expected to be on par with or even more significant than last year’s.

Susanna Visser from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remarked, “The situation is highly concerning and has been progressively deteriorating.

A growing range of tick season species are expanding into previously uncharted territories, introducing unfamiliar diseases. Notably, southern species such as the Gulf Coast tick and the lone star tick are now being identified in New York and other northern states.

U.S. Health Officials

However, experts are particularly concerned about the common black-legged tick season, which is predominantly found in forested areas and is known for transmitting Lyme disease. Infections typically peak in May, with U.S. health officials estimating nearly half a million cases of Lyme disease occur annually.

Here’s an overview of what to anticipate this year and ways you can safeguard yourself.

TICK FACTS

Ticks are tiny, eight-legged parasites that feed on blood—classified as arachnids, not insects—often targeting animals and occasionally humans. Certain ticks carry pathogens that can lead to illnesses, transmitting these germs through their bites.

While there isn’t a universally agreed-upon estimate regarding the annual tick population, there is a scientific consensus that they pose an escalating health risk across significant swathes of the United States.

Eastern United States

Blacklegged ticks, also referred to as deer ticks due to their preference for deer blood, are prevalent in the eastern United States. Historically abundant, their numbers declined with deforestation and deer hunting but have since rebounded alongside increasing deer populations and the expansion of wooded suburban areas.

Initially concentrated in pockets in New England and the Midwest, these ticks have expanded their range into the South and the Great Plains.

Tick populations fluctuate throughout the year and are influenced by several factors. They thrive in warm, humid conditions, often proliferating after mild winters. Additionally, the abundance of deer and mice for them to feed on also plays a significant role.

Researchers assert that the population of black-legged ticks has been steadily increasing for at least four decades.

Rebecca Eisen, a research biologist and tick season expert at the CDC, describes it as “an epidemic unfolding gradually.”

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2024 TICK SEASON FORECAST

Weather conditions can influence the severity of a tick season. Frigid and dry winters can reduce tick populations, but recent mild winters—a trend that some attribute to climate change—have failed to curb their numbers.

Scott Williams, a tick researcher at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, highlights that “Winters are no longer acting as a barrier to the tick population.

Ticks are resilient to heat but tend to enter a state akin to hibernation during dry summers. Chuck Lubelczyk, a vector ecologist at the Maine Health Institute for Research, noted such a phenomenon occurring in Maine from 2020 to 2022.

However, the previous year witnessed unusually high levels of rainfall, leading to a surge in tick season activity in Maine—the state with the highest incidence of Lyme disease in the nation. Weather forecasts anticipate elevated temperatures and precipitation, prompting Lubelczyk to suggest that “on paper, at least, it could be a very favorable year for ticks.

Health Institute for Research

In Wisconsin, adult ticks season were active for an extended period compared to usual, attributed to a mild winter. Xia Lee, an entomologist at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, noted that tick nymphs are beginning to emerge, and a wet spring is laying the groundwork for the potential of a robust population.

The situation in New York mirrors that of Wisconsin.

Saravanan Thangamani, a researcher specializing in ticks and tickborne diseases at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, predicts, “It will be as severe as last year, if not worse.

WHAT IS LYME DISEASE?

Approximately 20% to 30% of the black-legged tick season nymphs emerging in the Northeast and Midwest this spring and summer are estimated by experts to carry the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease.

Symptoms of Lyme disease typically manifest within three to thirty days following a tick bite and may include fever, headache, fatigue, and a distinctive bull’ s-eyebull’s-eye rash. If you experience a bite and develop symptoms, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly for antibiotic treatment.

HOW TO KEEP TICKS OFF OF YOU

Experts emphasize the importance of preventing tick season bites altogether.

When venturing outdoors, be vigilant around wooded areas and the transition zones where grassy areas meet forests. Ticks often perch on low-lying vegetation, extending their legs to attach to passing animals or humans.

Opt to walk in the centre of paths, wear light-coloured clothing treated with permethrin, and utilize insect repellents registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

HOW TO CHECK FOR TICKS

Upon returning indoors, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough check for ticks. While they can attach anywhere on the body, common areas to inspect include around the waist, behind the knees, between fingers and toes, underarms, in the belly button, and around the neck or hairline.

Ticks are more challenging to detect when they are young, so it’s essential to scrutinize carefully and promptly remove any found using tweezers.

The CDC advises against sending individual ticks for testing because a person may sustain multiple tick bites, and the results from a single tick may not provide adequate information.

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