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MDH: Large Tick Populations Detected

Updated: 05/20/2014 7:20 PM
Created: 05/20/2014 10:46 AM KSTP.com
By: Megan Stewart

The cold, snowy winter did nothing to slow the population of ticks, including those carrying diseases, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Minnesotans should be cautious in the coming weeks, health officials said.

In 2013, a record number of Lyme disease cases were reported. Health officials said 1,431 cases of Lyme and nearly 700 cases of other tick-borne diseases were reported last year.

Ticks were likely shielded from the cold temperatures by the deep snow in wooded and brushy areas where ticks are found, according to David Neitzel, a tick specialist with MDH.

Neitzel said the MDH is finding a large number of adult blacklegged ticks in central and southeastern Minnesota field study locations and they expect immature nymph stage ticks to become active soon.

The highest risk for exposure to these dangerous pests is mid-may through Mid-July, especially the smaller ones that are hard to see, officials said.

Health officials gave the following tips to protect against ticks:

  • Be aware when you are in tick habitat; wooded or brushy areas for the blacklegged tick, grassy or wooded areas for the American dog tick
  • Use a repellent to reduce the risk of disease and consider pre-treating fabric with permethrin-based repellents
  • Keep lawns and trails mowed short
  • Remove leaves and brush
  • Create a landscape barrier of wood chips or rocks between mowed lawns and woods
  • Apply pesticide treatments in the spring or early summer along the edges of wooded yards and trails
Blacklegged tick
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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