With the exception of mosquitoes and perhaps a few other candidates, no bug has a worse reputation than deer ticks (also known as blacklegged ticks). These tiny arachnids carry and spread Lyme disease, an illness that can cause serious and persistent health issues. According to a recent study, Lyme-carrying ticks pose a greater risk to human health than ever before.
More Ticks in More States
In just the last two decades, the number of US counties plagued by harmful ticks has risen dramatically. Such was the conclusion of a 2016 report by a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Specifically, this team focused on the two types of ticks that transfer Lyme to humans – blacklegged tick and the
western blacklegged tick.
In 1998, slightly less than a third (30%) of US counties housed these tiny pests. By 2016, this figure had ballooned to 45.7%. The vast majority of this unwanted growth occurred in the eastern part of the United States, including such prominent states as New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
The bad news doesn’t end there; lead author Rebecca Eisen further noted that ticks have become especially dangerous in New England and its adjacent states. “Since the late 1990s, the number of counties in the northeastern United States that are considered high-risk for Lyme disease has increased by more than 320%,” stated Eisen. “The tick is now established in areas where it was absent 20 years ago.”
The CDC’s findings help explain why so many Americans suffer from Lyme disease; it is estimated that 300,000 people in the United States must contend with this effects of this condition.
Keeping the Bugs at Bay
Though Lyme-infected ticks are becoming more prevalent, the CDC does offer the following tips for avoiding both ticks and the disease they carry:
- Steer clear of areas that are filled with plants and other vegetation. Such areas are prime hiding spots for ticks.
- Apply special repellents to your skin. These products should contain a substance called DEET, which gives them their tick-repelling qualities.
- After returning home from a hike through the woods, make sure to bathe thoroughly.
- For your clothes and boots, apply a repellent with permethrin.