WASHINGTON — With the weather warming and people spending more time outside, it’s time to start thinking about ticks.
“I picked up my first tick this year in March, but we are now coming into the thick of tick season,” University of Maryland Entomology Professor Mike Raupp told WTOP.
“This is the time of year, usually in late May, early June and July, when the cases of human Lyme disease start to spike. And it’s because people are simply outdoors more.”
He said if you take a walk in a forest, use tick repellents and stick to paths.
“I do a really geeky thing. I tuck my pant legs into my socks,” Raupp said. “This forces the ticks to climb up over my clothing rather than sneak under my pant leg and find a nice tight spot to wedge in.”
Whenever you, your kids or pets have been outdoors, be sure to do a full body check for ticks when you come back inside.
“If you can remove a tick within the first 24 to 30 hours, the probability of transmitting Lyme disease declines to near zero,” Raupp said.
The blacklegged tick, which Raupp said used to be called the deer tick, is the one primarily responsible for transmitting Lyme disease to humans.
The most common tick in our area is the lone star tick, which Raupp said is the main transmitter of another tick-borne disease called Ehrlichiosis.
The classic sign of Lyme is a bullseye-shaped rash anywhere on the body, but Raupp said there are other signs.
“If you find yourself with flu-like symptoms during the summertime, I recommend going to your physician and being checked for either Lyme disease or Ehrlichiosis,” Raupp said. “Because oftentimes for many people, they will not express the bull’s-eye rash.”
He said prevention is especially important for residents of our region: “Maryland and Virginia usually rank in the top 10 of states with cases of human Lyme disease.”
Raupp said Lyme disease can be easily treated if you catch it early, but if you let it go, it can become a serious chronic problem.