MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Enjoying the outdoors in the spring and summer also means protecting yourself from mosquitoes and ticks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the number of cases involving those pests has more than tripled since 2004.

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“We had to watch him well because when we rescued him, he had Lyme disease,” Deb Thompson said.

Even on a beautiful evening at Como Lake in St. Paul, Roger and Deb Thompson are keeping a close eye on their dog, Axel. The 4-year-old German Shepherd mix had Lyme disease when they adopted him.

“We put the flea tick stuff on him. We use a little bottle that we spray it down like that,” said Roger, showing how he protects Axel from ticks while also giving him a flea and tick collar to wear.

The CDC wants families to keep an eye out for themselves, too.

Between 2004 and 2016, the number of disease cases stemming from mosquito, tick and flea bites more than tripled.

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“The ticks themselves have expanded their range over that period of time,” Mike McLean said.

McLean, who works with the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District, said his organization is also concerned about the CDC’s findings that nine new germs have been discovered since 2004.

Those aren’t the only alarming statistics. The CDC believes about 80% of vector control organizations may not be ready for these new germs or the uptick in cases.

“There’s things like ehrlichiosis that used to be a pretty rare disease that were spread by ticks. Now they are becoming more common,” McLean said.

One tick can give you more than one disease, which is why McLean is reminding people to tuck their pants into their socks when walking in dense vegetation and check yourself afterward.

“The quicker you can get rid of a tick the less chance it has of giving you a disease,” McLean said.

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However, there is some good news on the tick front. McLean said that because of the lingering winter, there is a chance we could see fewer ticks this year.

John Lauritsen