Ticks and incidences of tickborne diseases have been on the rise in Ohio, according to Tim McDermott, an educator with the Ohio State University Extension. It’s a trend that’s expected to continue due to global climate change, more ticks expanding from other regions and an increase in the number of animals living close to humans.
Ticks are most active from April through September, but you can really find them at any time throughout the year, McDermott said.
“While you can encounter a tick during any season, spring marks the beginning of heavy tick season, and this year, the tick population statewide is expected to continue to rise,” he’s quoted in a Friday news release.
“Ticks are extraordinarily adaptable and can travel on host animals,” McDermott said. “Ticks expand when their habitat range expands due to global climate change. They take advantage of what they can take advantage of to move to new spaces. So now, every year going forward has the potential to be bad, and you should go into each tick season thinking about how you can keep you and your family tick-safe.”
What are the different types of ticks in Ohio?
Decades ago, the only tick to worry about was the American dog tick. But today, there are four other types concerning experts: the blacklegged, or deer tick; the Lone Star tick; the Asian longhorned tick; and the Gulf Coast tick — the latter two of whom were first found in Ohio in 2020.
“In fact, we are also up to seven counties in Ohio with Asian longhorned tick as of right now, including Franklin County,” he said. “We will be closely monitoring to see if we add any new Ohio counties with Asian longhorned ticks in 2023.
What diseases are caused by tick bites?
More ticks means a higher risk of contracting tickborne illnesses, most of which start with flu-like symptoms or a rash:
- Anaplasmosis, which can lead to respiratory failure, organ failure and death if left untreated
- Babesiosis, which has complications like low blood pressure, anemia, malfunction of vital organs and death
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is transmitted by dog ticks. It rarely leads to death
- And Lyme disease, the most common tickborne illness, which can affect the joints, heart and nervous system
- Lone Star ticks can also cause humans to develop a meat allergy
How to prevent tick bites
- Wear light-colored clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck the shirt into your pants and the pants into your socks or boots
- Apply tick repellent
- Wear footwear and clothing treated with 0.5% permethrin, a spray-on insecticide you can get at your local outfitter or outdoors shop
- Check frequently for ticks on your clothes and check more thoroughly when you shower
- Give your pets anti-tick products like a pill, collar or topical solution
- Keep dogs leashed and away from weedy areas
“Keep your yard mowed, and do not allow brush or leaf litter to accumulate,” according to McDermott. “Remove brush, tall weeds, and grass in order to eliminate the habitat of rodents and other small mammals, which serve as hosts for ticks as well as serve as prime tick habitat.”
What to do if you find an attached tick
- Don’t crush or puncture it
- Grasp it as close to the skin as possible with pointed tweezers or a tick removal tool. Pull straight up and out with steady, even pressure
- Thoroughly wash the site, your hands and the tool with soap and warm water
- Put the tick in a container with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. Record the day the tick was likely to have attached
- If you start having flu-like symptoms or a rash, take the tick with you to a health care professional
“If you think you might have been exposed to a tick bite, contact your physician right away to get a diagnosis,” McDermott is quoted in the release. “It’s very important to receive the appropriate treatment as soon as possible.”