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Expert: Michigan’s Tick Population Explodes

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An American dog tick. (credit: istock)

An American dog tick. (credit: istock)

sandramcneill Sandra McNeill
A native Detroiter and University of Michigan graduate, I got a break...
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EAST LANSING (WWJ) – They like to bite and burrow under your skin  — and, often, you don’t even know they’re there.

Michigan State University entomologist Howard Russell says the population of ticks is exploding in southeast Michigan.

Why? He’s not sure.

But, Russell said, while he rarely got a call about a tick five years ago, he’s now getting frequent calls about ticks picked up in homeowners’ own backyards.

Russell said they’re American dog ticks, so they don’t carry Lyme disease like deer ticks do.

Still, “With any tick bite, you want to be on alert for any fever or rash that develops,” said Russell. “Because, even the American dog ticks do carry a couple diseases that can be pretty serious, so certainly you want to be on alert…”

Russell said it’s a good idea to check yourself , your children and your pets over carefully for ticks after any prolonged time spent outdoors.

Ticks, he said, can be sneaky.

“A lot of people that I’ve talked to over the years, you know, they find the tick embedded,” Russell said. “They didn’t feel the tick. They see the tick, and they never felt it push its mouth parts into them.”

Experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest using caution when camping, hiking, playing outdoors and gardening. Ticks like moist, humid environments in or near woody or grassy areas. The CDC suggests wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks and treating clothing and boots with DEET repellents or permethrin.

To remove a tick, health officials say to use tweezers, grabbing it as close to the skin as possible and pulling it straight out slowly, making sure its mouth parts are removed. Then, throughly cleanse the skin and apply an antiseptic.

American dog tick season typically runs from early May though November in Michigan. The American dog tick can be distinguished from deer ticks by the presence of white markings on the back.

[CLICK HERE for more information about different types of ticks from the Michigan Department of Community Health].

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