By Esme Murphy

By Esme Murphy, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Deer ticks, that can carry Lyme disease, used to be concentrated in the Northwestern part of the metro. But now they’re starting to move to the south and to the east.

Experts say our snowy winter is almost ensuring that we’ll see a bumper crop of the ticks this spring and summer.

The juvenile deer ticks are no bigger than a grain of sand. It is almost impossible to detect on a person or a dog yet it can do as much damage as a full-grown deer tick. The female is red, the male a brownish black.

The adults are significantly smaller than the wood tick, which does not carry diseases.

Last year was a record year for serious tick-born illness in Minnesota with more than 2,000 cases — part of the problem being a spreading tick population.

“We are starting to see them in areas where we didn’t ordinarily see them, places like the northern part of Dakota County and the Minnesota River Valley and into Carver and Scott County,” said Mike Mclean of the Minnesota Mosquite Control District.

With the spread of ticks across the state has come a dramatic increase in the number of Lyme disease cases, as well as an increase in a lesser known disease called anaplasmosis.

While Lyme disease begins with a skin rash, anaplasmosis does not.

“With anaplasmosis, usually there is no rash. People have very quick onset of high fever, muscle aches, chills, they feel real sick  in a real hurry,” said Dave Neitzel, an epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health.

Complications can lead to death. Ticks can be carried by dogs who also can catch Lyme disease. But scientists say one of the biggest misconceptions about deer ticks is that they need deer to survive.

In fact, it is rodents, including chipmunks and mice, that are the biggest hosts.

The best prevention is to wear the insecticide DEET or permethrin.

If you want to go low-tech, you can tuck your pants into your socks.

Comments (10)
  1. DE says:

    Correction: Wood ticks may not carry Lyme, but they ad carry other bacteria and you can get a serious infection from a bite. I know, it happened to me in my own front yard while pulling weeds.

  2. Sarah in Outstate MN says:

    Oh great! My family and I love to go walking on the paths and trails in the State Parks. Urgh. Tick spray here we come.

  3. Kathryn says:

    I just got one of my dogs vaccinated for lyme disease.. need to get the other one’s shots done. And frontline is important too!

  4. trl the alligator says:

    ….thats weird….my brother looks like a woodtick and his girlfreind smells like one…..something very strange indeed.

  5. Mel says:

    When they banned insecticides that contaon DEET in Africa, Malaria became an epidemic. Other than spraying with deet, how can we keep ticks out of our yards?

    1. gagged says:

      I think you mean dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) not N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET)…both insecticides, but yet very different. DDT is what caused the near extinction of the bald eagle (and other animals) and it’s true that it’s use has greatly diminished globally it is starting to be used more often in Africa because of it’s effectiveness against mosquitoes, but even they are starting to become resistant.

  6. shelly kern says:

    which type of blood tests are the most accurate for detection of lyme disease?

    1. Monique Dubos says:

      Shelly, the current blood tests are not sensitive to all the variations of the Lyme bacteria. The Minnesota Lyme Association recommends seeking a doctor who will diagnose based on exposure to tick habitat and symptoms. If you find a tick attached, our medical advisor recommends getting a course of antibiotics. Visit for more details.

  7. Liz says:

    Last Sunday I went hiking in at Afton State Park on the St. Croix River. A couple days later I noticed I had a build up of crust neat the opening of the ear canal. I put a littlt bit of cotton and it showed a little blood . Could this be a result of a tick bite?

  8. Tick Twister Pro says:

    Remove a tick in less than 1 (one) minute.
    It’s now June of 2011 and it seems the ticks are plentiful this year in Ulster County New York. Whether it is because of the bountiful snowfall we had, providing plenty of moisture as it slowly melted, or the spring rains that are shortening our weeks to 4 days instead of 7, the tick population must be exploding. We have heard more reports of ticks on people and animals this year than we have in past years for an entire season.
    Did you know that ticks do not really have “a season”? Ticks can be active at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit even if it is in the middle of December.
    Do you have your “Tick Twister Pro”?
    Although the name can throw you off a bit the “Tick Twister Pro” does not twist anything. And it most certainly DOES NOT squeeze like tweezers. When used in the correct way the “Tick Twister Pro”, distributed by Twist It Out of Port Ewen, NY, SPINs the entire tick. This spinning action stops the ticks anchoring mechanism, reverse barbs like that on a fish hook, from being able to hold the tick in place any longer. We have been using the Tick Twister and now the Tick Twister Pro since 2006 and have not had a “head” left in the skin, not even once. The ticks are also quite alive when removed making it very easy to have on hand when you decide if it needs to be tested for any diseases. SOME veterinarians will send ticks for testing at no cost to you. DO NOT put the tick between 2 pieces of scotch tape; instead put it in an empty pill bottle or the like. Anything you are not going to want to keep or reuse at some other time.
    In 2007 we went to Maryland and Assateague Island. We ended up with ticks all over our socks, sneakers, pants, legs and arms. Upon returning home we had our vet test one of the ticks, which we had kept in a tightly sealed, empty aspirin bottle. The lab called his office to find out why he, our vet, was sending a Lone Star tick to them from New York State. Travel trailers and camping equipment are great ways for ticks to move about and there were a lot of people camping, with and without pets, in Maryland when we went.
    Obviously we, at Twist It Out, do NOT recommend using tweezers to remove a tick.
    Why? Squeezing can cause the tick to move fluids from itself and into you (or your pet). This “regurgitation” is the substance which may contain the infectious diseases.
    We do not care how good a pair of tweezers claims to be or how fine the points are (finer is going to be weaker) TWEEZERS SQUEEZE. It isn’t any ones fault; it is just the nature of the way the tool was designed. So, please, don’t use tweezers that squeeze the tick when you are trying to get one off yourselves or your animals.
    ANY swelling and redness, the dreaded “bulls eye” rash or flu like symptoms would warrant a visit to your own doctor.
    Be well and be safe everyone.
    Keep your animal loved ones safe too.

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