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Warm temperatures bringing out the ticks

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 5:09 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Ticks, humidity, and heat go hand in hand. With temperatures rising and humidity increasing, expect to see more ticks this time of year.

While ticks are most active during the warm season, some species are present all year round. You will find them wherever there is vegetation.

Dr. Solny Adalsteinsson, a scientist with Tyson Research Group, said, “They will perch on vegetation and stick their legs out, and search for those chemical cues.”

Those chemical cues are given off by people and wildlife, whose blood ticks feed on. One of the best ways to avoid ticks is by wearing long pants and high socks.

Dr. Adalsteinsson said, “Make sure that you’re well covered up, especially on the lower half of your body. Even if it’s hot out, it’s worth it.”

There are also special sprays that you can use to coat your clothes that kill ticks on impact. Or, walk in the center part of the trails and avoid brushing up against vegetation.

Four main tick species in Missouri carry diseases that are harmful to people. The symptoms of these diseases are often flu-like.

Dr. Adalsteinsson said, “Fever, headache, fatigue, body aches, which can be tough to identify specifically as a tickborne disease.”

While Lyme disease is the most common disease in the U.S., it’s not the most common disease in Missouri.

Dr. Adalsteinsson said, “We have a pretty high prevalence of ehrlichiosis.”

Ehrlichiosis is curable if treated quickly. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tularemia are a few other diseases common in tick bites.

Dr. Adalsteinsson said, “They can be treated pretty well with antibiotics.”

If you are sick, Dr. Adalsteinsson recommends seeing your physician and letting them know that you were out in tick habitat.

The best way to prevent diseases is to avoid getting bit altogether and check yourself thoroughly upon coming inside.

If you find a tick, use a pair of tweezers or your fingers to pinch them off. Try to pinch as close to the skin as possible. Don’t wiggle or jab at the tick.