This years unusually mild winter and the early onset of warm temperatures has led to the early emergence of ticks searching for a fresh, warm-blooded meal. In addition, a smaller crop of acorns is reported to be a contributing factor as it reduced the population of white-footed miceticks preferred hostcausing them to feed more hungrily on humans and pets.
These trends point to greater chances of contracting Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses particularly in the Northeastern, mid-Atlantic and North Central U.S.
Ticks are not insects, they are related to spiders, scorpions, and mites, all of which are classified as Arachnids. Ticks in the nymphal (immature) stages are active in May, June and July. Research has shown that ticks most often transmit Lyme disease to humans during the nymphal stages, probably because numphs are so small they go unnoticed on a persons body. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 2018 about 22,000 cases of Lyme disease and 8,000 more probable cases were reported nationwide.
According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, the signs of Lyme disease can vary but often include the red rash that may appear around the site of the bite, fever, joint pain, fatigue and chills. As the bacteria continue to invade the body, people may experience a stiff neck, tingling and severe headaches. . Even if these symptoms fade away, untreated Lyme disease may lead to arthritis, nervous system abnormalities, and an irregular heart rhythm.
Babesiosis is another infection transmitted by ticks and is caused by a parasite that lives in red blood cells. The babesia microti parasite infects and destroys red blood cells, and the disease which is a malaria-like illness can cause hemolytic anemia. Symptoms begin anywhere from five days after a bite or longer, and may include fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, nausea, tiredness, and a rash. Unlike Lyme, Babesiosis has been known to be fatal. Therefore diagnosis and treatment should begin as soon as possible after it is contracted.