If you’ve never seen Michigan before, that could soon change: Experts say our state is experiencing a “tick explosion,” with the spread of ticks on the rise.
Seeing ticks in most of Michigan’s lower peninsula was rare. But with ticks becoming increasingly prevalent in the southern half of the state, it’s important for people to be vigilant and protect themselves from the parasites when outside.
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Everyone needs to get used to checking themselves for ticks after spending time outdoors. Parasites are more than just a nuisance. They have a number of diseases.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, is increasing at a record pace. In the United States, climate change has expanded the range of ticks, allowing them to thrive in areas where they previously could not survive.
In Michigan, ticks have been on the move for the past decade.
In 2014, the counties known for Lyme risk were located primarily within Western and Northern Michigan counties. In 2021, this risk expanded to most of the Upper Peninsula and many central and eastern counties – including Metro Detroit. You can see a comparison of the 2014 and 2021 risk maps in the video player above.
more: Let’s Talk About Michigan Ticks: 5 You Should Be Aware Of How To Prevent A Sting And What To Do If You Find One
So, what’s behind the explosion of tick numbers?
Experts say low snow and mild temperatures are a major factor. And every successful tick year means more ticks are able to reproduce – so they are definitely here to stay.
Researchers are working on a vaccine that would immediately itch and inflame the area that was bitten by the tick, giving a person a chance to remove the tick before it is time to transmit Lyme or many other diseases.
But, until then, if you find a tick, remove it as quickly as possible with tweezers. Pull it straight out, being careful not to crush it.
How to protect yourself from ticks
It is important to use insect repellent with a concentration of 20% or higher than DEET.
You must also:
Cover up when in wooded or grassy areas. Wear shoes, long pants tucked into your socks, a long-sleeved shirt, a hat, and gloves.
Remove ticks from your yard by cleaning the brush and leaves where ticks live.
Make sure to check yourself, your children, and your pets daily for ticks.
Experts say pets also face a higher risk of getting ticks than before, so be sure to talk to your vet about tick prevention treatments for pets.
Read: You and your pets may be more susceptible to tick-borne diseases this month: What do you know
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