Early warning out for ticksWarm early spring weather has brought out ticks earlier than usual in many regions of Minnesota.
By: Minnesota Department of health, Lake County News Chronicle
Warm early spring weather has brought out ticks earlier than usual in many regions of Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Health urges anyone heading outdoors in Minnesota this spring and early summer to use tick repellents and other measures to prevent Lyme disease and other serious diseases transmitted by ticks.
The most commonly reported tick-borne diseases in Minnesota are Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis. Several other tick-borne diseases are rare in the state but have been detected more frequently in recent years. These include Powassan disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and tularemia. All of these diseases can be severe.
While the peak of the tick-transmitted disease season is typically from mid-May through mid-July, coinciding with the feeding of the tiny nymph stage of the blacklegged tick (also called deer tick), other ticks are feeding now and can also transmit disease.
“Tick repellent is the best defense for anyone spending time in wooded, brushy, or grassy parts of the state,” urged Dave Neitzel, an epidemiologist specializing in tick-transmitted diseases at MDH.
Neitzel emphasized that it is important to use repellents containing one of the following active ingredients:
Repellents containing up to 30 percent DEET can be used on the skin or clothing. Lower concentrations can be used but might need to be applied more frequently.
These repellents are only applied to clothing, and are highly effective even after treated clothing has been washed.
Since ticks climb up from the ground, focus repellent use below the waistline. Also, wear long pants and light-colored clothing to spot ticks more easily, and walk in the center of trails. After returning from outdoor activities, check your body carefully for ticks and promptly remove any that are found. These precautions are most important during the late spring, early summer, and fall, when ticks are active.
Several tick species carry diseases in Minnesota. The biggest concern is the blacklegged tick, which can carry Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan disease. Blacklegged ticks are most common in hardwood or mixed hardwood forests of east-central, north-central, and southeast Minnesota. Over the past few years, they have appeared to expand their range into forested parts of west-central, northwest, and northeast Minnesota.