Tick populations on the rise; How to protect yourself

MIAMI VALLEY — Creepy, crawly and concerning.

Overall tick populations are expanding across Ohio, according to Don Cipollini, a biology professor at Wright State University

The increase of tick populations also means an increased risk of tickborne diseases.

“It’s a multi-factor issue,” he explained.

Cipollini believes this includes a combination of climate change, as warmer more humid conditions are favorable for ticks and an increase of available hosts like deers and rodents.

“As tick numbers increase, as their hosts become more abundant and interact more with people, more and more, they bring basically these diseases closer to home,” he said.

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Data from the Ohio Department of Health confirms this.

In the past two years data shows a 31 percent jump in tickborne diseases with 138 more cases of Lyme disease in 2021 compared to 2020.

Cipollini gave some tips for avoiding ticks while out in nature.

He said you can tuck your pants into your socks and also suggests wearing boots and bug repellant.

It’s best to avoid brushy, tall grass areas where ticks like to live.

“Basically what ticks do, is they just hang out on branches and on blades of grass and on twigs and just wait for a potential host to come by,” Cipollini explained.

In the case they do latch on, you have a few hours before what Cipollini calls “a critical point” — when ticks start to feed and exchange fluids.

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He provided tips on how to remove them.

He said you can use tweezers to pull the tick straight out. You do not want to crush the tick in the process as you are essentially injecting yourself with the tick’s fluids.

Cipollini warned against other popular methods like lighting a match or putting vaseline over where the tick is.

If the tick has been in your body for a long period of time, Cipollini suggests keeping the body of the tick in case it needs to be inspected for diseases.

To learn more about diseases that can be spread by ticks and their symptoms you can visit the Center for Disease Control’s website.