Be vigilant outside: Kentucky’s tick populations expected to rapidly rise

Be vigilant outside: Kentucky’s tick populations expected to rapidly rise
Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 4:03 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Tick season is quickly approaching and that means we need to be extra vigilant outside as diseases can get easily spread by ticks attaching to your body.

With warmer air ahead over the next few months and the growing season increasing more, tick populations are expected to rapidly rise and could have the potential to be greater than in previous years.

“We’ve got lots of deer, we’ve got lots of mice, when those populations go up and down or change that can mean differences in populations for ticks,” said Jonathan Larson, Extension Entomologist with the University of Kentucky. “When we have sort of weedy and wet springs where things are growing and being very abundant that gives them a lot of habitat.”

Now, while Lyme disease is one of the most common and well-known diseases spread by ticks, researchers are finding the Heartland virus is circulating more within ticks across the Midwest and even here in the south.

“Heartland virus, as the name implies, is a virus, so there’s not a lot that we can do to prevent it or to try and control it once in your body,” Larson said.

Larson says while there have only been a couple of cases so far in Kentucky, it’s something researchers will be watching for.

If you ever have a tick attached to you, he says find some fine point tweezers and get as close to the head of the tick as you can.

“Grip that area and pull straight up,” Larson said. “You want to do it in a quicker motion but not a yank or a jerk, you don’t want to wiggle it out, that can cause bits of the tick to be left behind in you.”

Larson says never try to burn or our alcohol on the tick to get it out because that could increase disease transmission.

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