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Take a stand against ticks and Lyme Disease

Wednesday - 5/16/2012, 8:06am  ET

Tips for Avoiding Ticks

  • Avoid tall grass and dense vegetation.
  • Walk in the middle of mowed trails to avoid brushing against anything.
  • Cut your grass and thin your underbrush.
  • Get rid of places where small rodents live.
  • Wear light-colored clothing so that ticks are easier to see.
  • Tuck your pant legs into socks and boots.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts buttoned at the wrists.
  • Check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks every 4 hours to 6 hours.
  • Use tick repellent that contain 30 percent DEET or 0.5 percent permethrin.
  • Ask your veterinarian to recommend tick control methods for your pets.
Source: Virginia Department of Health

WASHINGTON - This spring and summer could bring a lot more cases of Lyme disease, a disease ecologist says.

A milder than usual winter means tick season started earlier than usual this year -- and it will run through September.

Since the the parasitic bugs had longer to breed, you'll encounter more of them as you're outside.

With tick season comes greater concerns about Lyme Disease, a tick-borne illness.

Richard Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., says the Northeast should prepare for a boom in Lyme disease cases from now through July.

Ticks will need hosts on which to feed because the mouse population is crashing.

"This spring, there will be a lot of Borrelia burgdorferi-infected black-legged ticks in our forests looking for a blood meal. And instead of finding a white-footed mouse, they are going to find other mammals -- like us," Ostfeld says.

WTOP Garden Editor Mike McGrath offers tips on how to keep you and your yard tick-free.

WTOP's Veronica Robinson contributed to this report. Follow Veronica and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)