Rise in ticks could make this summer worst season in years

PHOTO/CBS NEWS

(CBS NEWS) – Diseases carried by ticks are on the rise and some scientists predicting that this summer could be the worst tick season in years.

From May to July, people will get more tick bites than any other time.

While more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are confirmed nationwide each year, studies suggest the actual number is closer to 300,000.

Ticks can also carry other serious illnesses.

Dr. David Agus told “CBS This Morning” that two warm winters in a row are partly to blame for the surging number of ticks. Another reason is that there has been a record harvest of acorn—a favorite food of mice in the wild.

“Acorns are what mice eat and mice carry ticks. So with mice happy and running around, we’re going to see more ticks this year,” Agus said.

Lyme disease is one of the most common illnesses associated with ticks and one of the more difficult to diagnose.

“The real problem is … the one FDA-approved Lyme test doesn’t really turn positive in most cases ’til four to six weeks afterwards, and not even in all cases does it turn positive,” Agus explained. So people who were more recently infected might get a false negative test result.

According to Agus, “Doctors are told ‘if you think Lyme disease, treat for Lyme disease'”—even without a positive test result.

In addition to Lyme, there are other dangerous diseases ticks carry, and they’re also on the rise.

“There are more and more of these diseases and some of them can even be fatal,” Agus said. “We’re seeing diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted FeverPowassan—which is the potential deadly one—Babesiosis and lots of other ones.”

Tips for preventing tick bites:

–       Wear long sleeves and pants

–       Use repellent with 20 percent DEET or more

–       Do body checks

–       Cut the grass short

–       Put clothes in the dryer for ten minutes; the heat will kill any ticks

How to remove a tick:

–       Use fine-tipped tweezers

–       Put tweezers at the base of the tick, where the head is

–       Pull upward

–       Clean area with rubbing alcohol

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