Warm winter to blame for tick increase

Warm winter to blame for tick increase

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - If you've spent some time outdoors this spring, you may have already started noticing more ticks compared to years past. The State Department of Health along with local pest control companies said it's because of the warmer winter we saw.

Scott Brown with Environmental Pest Control said they've been very busy and started getting calls about ticks nearly a month earlier than they normally do.

"Generally you'll see three or four houses a day with ticks," Brown said. "Right now, we're running seven or eight houses a day with ticks."

Brown expects to see even more ticks as it gets hotter because ticks are most active starting in May and going until August.

The State Department of health says the state of Oklahoma is one of the highest ranked states with tickborne illnesses, like tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Since 2012, more than 2,000 Oklahomans got sick and four have died.

He said there are things you can do to keep ticks from becoming a problem.

"Keep your grass cut, make sure if you have animals that you keep some type of repellant or flea and tick agent on them, and then have a company come out and spray your yard every 30 days," Brown said.

Other ways to help prevent tick bites is by wearing loose, light-colored, and long clothing. Using bug spray that has DEET and staying in the center of trails when you go hiking can also help prevent tick bites. And, the last thing you can do to keep yourself safe is to check for ticks and remove them with tweezers or tissue.

Brown said don't wait until you've seen ticks to start worrying about protecting you and your family.

"Everything can carry a disease and you also have your animals to consider," Brown said. "You don't want to make them sick, your kids sick, or yourself sick."

Most tickborne diseases can be treated successfully with early diagnosis and appropriate antibiotics so it's important to keep an eye out for symptoms if you or a loved one gets bitten.

If you start to notice some of the main symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, vomiting and fatigue within 3 to 14 days following a tick bite, call your doctor.

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