MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – You can’t tell by the weather, but the unofficial start of summer arrived Monday. And the official start of the tick season.
Last year, conditions were warm and dry so Lyme Disease was down about 25 percent from the year before. But this year, it could be another story.
Dave Neitzel tracks deer ticks at the State Health Department, particularly the tiny nymths that are hardest to see. And he says they’re already out, despite our cold, wet spring.
“The highest risk period is mid-May to mid-July and the highest risk in wooded or brushy parts of the state,” he said.
Worse yet, these moist miserable conditions are ideal for only one thing — more Lyme Disease.
“We’re starting out kind of wet and humid and if it stays moist then ticks can feed and unfortunately transmit disease agents to us,” Neitzel said.
So, what can we do? Tuck in pants. Check for ticks and the infamous bullseye rash. And wear repellant.
“We recommend repellants that contain either DEET, which you use for mosquitoes, or what works even better are repellants that contain Permetherin,” he said.
In fact, that’s the spray DNR workers use at this campground in Afton.
“With the DNR it’s quite a concern because different diseases you can get. So we definitely want to take precautions when we’re out,” said Gary Thompson, Minnesota DNR repair worker.
Permethrin not only repels ticks, it kills them. But it can only be used on clothes, not skin, because it’s a pesticide.
“The repellants are safe if used according to label directions so the reward is much greater than the risk there,” Neitzel said.
One other good thing about repellants with Permetherin they keep working even after you’ve washed the clothes a few times.
Ticks were especially prevalent in Crow Wing State Park over the weekend, according to WCCO photojournalist Joel Thurston. His family went on a nature hike and had so many ticks on them, they stopped counting after 80. They found more after getting home and throwing their clothes in the dryer.
The Minnesota Department of Health has been getting the word out all weekend about ways to reduce your risk of attracting ticks. They said your best options are to wear light-colored clothing, long sleeves and tuck your pants into your socks.