Increase of ticks in Michigan worry health experts

Increase of ticks in Michigan worry health experts.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Health experts warn that this summer could be a bad season for ticks and have learned the insects carry more diseases than previously thought.

Newschannel 3's Christine VanTimmeren reported with tips on how to keep you and your family safe.

Entomologists said ticks have been increasing in Michigan over the last 10 years and a mild winter, wet spring, and a sizable deer population have all made this year particularly worrisome.

What worries doctors most is the prevalence of Lyme Disease in the tick population. Last year there were 221 human cases of Lyme Disease reported in Michigan and pets are also susceptible.

Bronson Infectious Disease Expert Richard Van Enk said ticks like to sit on the tips of tall grass and when a suitable host walks near they can easily jump and attach. The ticks then look for a place to hide.

Van Enk said ticks like hairlines, the underside of arms, the waistline and the skin at the top socks.

Lyme Disease is not the only disease to worry about if bitten by a tick.

Van Enk said, “We thought there was only one disease they carried, and that was Lyme Disease. The new thing about ticks now is that we think they carry up to a dozen different infectious diseases.”

One of those diseases is the Powassan (POW) virus ( ), which has had a reported case in Michigan.

There is no treatment for POW and it can infect the nervous system and cause encephalitis and meningitis.

Van Enk said typically, if you've been bitten by an infected tick, symptoms can appear 24 to 48 hours after transmission. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the onset symptoms of POW can range from one week to one month.

Van Enk said, “If you think the tick has been on you for more than a day and a half or two days you should probably get some medical attention because there are some treatments that we can give you that will reduce the risk of tick borne diseases.”

Symptoms to look for are fever, headache, muscle aches and sometimes a rash.

There are some steps to take to protect from tips:

  • Avoid tick infested areas like overgrown grass and brush.
  • Use insect repellent with 20 to 30 percent DEET.
  • Perform daily tick checks on yourself, your kids and your pets.
  • Take a shower or bath within two hours of being in tick infested areas.

If a tick attaches to you or a family member and it is removed within 24 hours, you greatly reduce the risk of getting sick.

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