Temperatures have hit the 80s, the sun is shining, the trails are busy and the ticks are falling from trees, climbing out of brush and hitchhiking on people and pets.
Tick season generally begins in April and can last through October, according to Pests.org‘s annual forecast. The northeastern portion of the United States, of which Maryland is a part, will likely see four types of ticks this year, including deer ticks.
Ticks like warmer, humid weather, and with a predicted wetter summer, Maryland and the northeastern part of the country will likely see more ticks this year, according to the pest organization’s forecast.
And with ticks comes the potential for diseases. Lyme disease is likely the disease that comes to mind when a person hears the word tick. While Lyme disease is a common tickborne disease, it is not the only one that will affect people in Frederick County, said Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, Frederick County health officer.
There are some diseases that have not yet made it to Maryland yet, Brookmyer said, such as tickborne relapsing fever, but ticks move around the country, as do the diseases they carry. While the county has not seen cases of the fever recently, it does not mean it will not this year, she said.
Many of the diseases are marked by non-specific symptoms, such as a general feeling of being unwell, achy muscles, similar to how one feels with the flu, and fatigue. Some diseases, such as Lyme, are marked by more standout characteristics, like a bull’s-eye rash.
But those symptoms do not happen in every case. About 20 to 30 percent of Lyme cases do not have the signature rash, Brookmyer said.
Ticks are everywhere, she said, so it is not just those who camp and hike who have to be worried about bringing home unwanted insects.
“Any place that deer are walking around and there’s brush nearby, that’s a setup for ticks,” she said.
To keep ticks away from the home, people can plant vegetation that deer do not find appetizing in order to keep deer away from their yards. People should limit their exposure.
When people come home from hiking or camping, they should put their clothes in the dryer for 10 minutes to kill any ticks that might be on the clothes before washing them, Brookmyer said.
People should also check for ticks on themselves, especially while showering. Ticks like to hide behind ears, in the hair and places like the waistband where there is constriction, she said.
If a person finds a tick on them, they need to pull it off with tweezers, using continuous steady pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They an also seek medical treatment from a primary care physician, who might start them on antibiotics, Brookmyer said.