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Health and Medicine

Ohio's Lyme disease-carrying tick population is exploding
In 2008, 1 percent of ticks were deer ticks; last year, they made up just under 25 percent

Kabir Bhatia
In The Region:
A new report says Ohio’s population of Lyme disease-carrying ticks has skyrocketed in recent years. And as WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports, experts are trying to figure out why.
Ohio's Lyme disease-carrying tick population is exploding

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In just the last five years, black-legged ticks – also known as deer ticks – have jumped from under 1 percent of Ohio’s tick population, to about 25 percent. And that’s led to twice the number of Lyme-disease cases as well.

An Ohio State University study shows that most deer ticks are in eastern Ohio, which has lots of the woods and tall grass the species prefers.

Glen Needham, professor emeritus of entomology at Ohio State, says it’s hard to pinpoint why the tick population is growing.

“Various folks have speculated it has something to do with the moderating climate [and] milder winters. But the black-legged, or deer, tick is kind of known as a cold-weather tick anyway. The snow cover served as kind of an insulating blanket. So even when it was really cold, it didn't really impact what was underneath the snow.”

Needham adds that deer ticks are most active in spring and summer, but hunters are still at risk through the end of the year.

Lyme disease has flu-like symptoms and often creates a bullseye-looking rash. Anyone suspecting a case of the disease should contact a physician and the Health Department, and save garments carrying the ticks for analysis if possible.
Listener Comments:

Interesting report.
The last sentence needs some editing.
It isn't a good idea to "save garments carrying ticks for analysis."
The garments carrying the ticks should be put in the dryer for
half an hour to kill the ticks. You can see if there are any in the lint to take for analysis. A link to how to remove ticks carefully and store to take to doctor or mail for analysis would help.
The link "Health Department" takes one to the CDC…. not to the Ohio Department of Health, or to your local county health department.

Posted by: Ann (Cleveland area) on August 26, 2014 11:08AM
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