According to reporting from NorthJersey.com: Mild winter, wet 2018 will cause surge in ticks in NJ, Northeast
A mild winter coupled with an excessively rainy 2018 may lead to a surge in the number of ticks capable of transmitting Lyme disease this spring, according to researchers at Rutgers University.
The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states experienced above average temperatures and precipitation from December through February.
For instance,New Jersey was deluged in 2018 with 64.8 inches of precipitation — the wettest year on record, according to David Robinson, the state climatologist. It was followed with a winter that has had the 13th-most precipitation since 1895.
Unlike younger nymphs that often stay inactive in a leaf cover or other shelter until late spring, adults stay active in winter and are capable latching onto a host. They often emerge in abundance in March or earlier depending on the thermometer.
"The sooner the temperature rises, the greater the threat becomes," said Alvaro Toledo, an assistant entomology professor at Rutgers.
Lyme threat endures
The Northeast is typically the hardest hit region for Lyme disease with Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York often leading the nation in cases.
A team of researchers recently published a report showing there are 11 tick species that call New Jersey home to give the public a more accurate assessments of tick-borne disease risk as well as the development of strategies to minimize such risk statewide.
While some may think hiking while covered in layers during the late winter and early spring would eliminate the threat of ticks, Alvaro said that isn't always the case.
"Being bundled up also helps, but ticks can still grab onto your pants or coat and maneuver to your skin to feed on your blood," he said.
Tips on avoiding a tick bite
- Keep grass short and underbrush thinned at your home.
- Apply EPA-registered insect repellent on your skin, clothing, boots and camping gear when outdoors to prevent ticks from getting on your body.
- Wear light-colored clothes to help you spot ticks easily.
- Tuck pants into socks to keep ticks from getting under your clothes.
- Check your body for ticks and shower within two hours of being outdoors.
- If you find a tick, carefully remove it with fine-pointed tweezers. Grasp it by the mouth parts closest to the skin and pull it steadily outward. Do not use petroleum jelly, noxious chemicals or hot objects. The sooner the tick is removed, the less likely it is to transmit disease.
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