MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We aren’t the only ones to survive the latest round of brutal winters — turns out, the heavy snow and frigid temperatures actually helped the survival of ticks that can carry disease, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
Officials say Minnesota’s blacklegged ticks, also referred to as deer ticks, were likely insulated from the cold winter temperatures by a deep snow in wooded areas where ticks are typically found.
“We are currently finding large numbers of the adult blacklegged ticks at central and southeastern Minnesota field study locations and expect the immature nymph stage of the tick to become active very soon,” said David Neitzel, a tick-borne disease specialist with the Minnesota Department of Health.
The abundance of deer ticks has prompted state health officials to urge precaution against tick bites, especially after last year’s record number of Lyme disease cases.
In 2013, 1,431 Lyme disease cases were reported in Minnesota residents. Other tick diseases were also up.
The highest risk for exposure to disease-carrying ticks is typically from mid-May to mid-July when the ticks are most active.
“We expect that tick-transmitted disease risk will be high again this year, including in those places that are historically high risk,” Neitzel said.
Wooded or bushy areas in southeastern, central and north central Minnesota are typically the highest risk.