The early appearance of spring weather has people headed outdoors to hit the trails and get back to nature. But the lack of frost has ticks out, too. Tamara Lindstrom has more on the upcoming tick season and what you can do to protect yourself from Lyme disease.
ITHACA, N.Y. -- The mild weather and early blossoms spell a return to outdoor adventure for many, including unwelcome guests.
"I've taken ticks off my personal pets and have had a number of people report to me that they've either been out hiking and had ticks on themselves or on their pets," said Paul Curtis, Cornell University wildlife specialist.
Ticks have started feeding about a month earlier than usual due to the unusual temperatures and their bite can leave more than a sting.
Curtis said, "Lyme disease is passed by the black legged tick. The black legged tick tends to prefer cooler, moister environments. So things like shaded areas along wood edges, especially where deer densities are high are potential places people might see ticks and need to be vigilant."
Curtis recommends wearing light clothing so you can see ticks latch on before they get a chance to bite.
"In areas that are really prone to high tick numbers, people tape their pant legs to the top of their boots or shoes," said Curtis.
And it's important to check yourself and your pets thoroughly after a day outdoors.
"Ticks need to be attached probably about 48 hours before they can actually pass the Lyme disease bacterium to people," Curtis said.
The best protection, Curtis says, is being aware and vigilant against the parasites and remove any invading ticks before they can give you disease.
If you think you've contracted Lyme disease, you should see a doctor immediately. The disease can be debilitating if it goes undiagnosed, but is easy to treat early on.