Watch Out for Deer Ticks

by Kelly Choate on January 18, 2012 at 6:22 am

If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you may want to take a closer look at your clothing when you come inside.

Infected black-legged ticks, also called deer ticks, spread Lyme Disease to humans through their bite.  According to the Ohio Department of Health, they’ve been collected in 52 of Ohio’s 88 counties including Muskingum, Perry, Coshocton, Noble, Morgan and Guernsey.  Ohio State University Extension Educator Mark Mechling said a growing deer population could be to blame.

"We’re seeing a large deer herd in the state of Ohio," said Mechling.  "Deer are very abundant, and they continue to move into the suburbs and around homes, so we’re probably just seeing more of an interface between people and deer today than we did maybe 15 or 20 years ago."

So far 183 ticks submitted last year to the health department have been identified as deer ticks.  Only 51 deer ticks were detected statewide between 1989 and 2009.  Mechling said it’s important to be able to differentiate between deer ticks and common dog ticks.

"One significant thing about deer ticks is that they’re very small," said Mechling.  "If you think of the common dog tick that we’ve seen around here for many years, deer ticks are about one-tenth of the size, and some people describe them as a freckle."

If caught early, antibiotics cure the vast majority of Lyme Disease cases.  Lyme Disease is usually associated with a red rash in the shape of a bull’s eye, but other symptoms include flu-like fatigue, fever, headaches and joint pain.