Tick Numbers On The Rise As Warmer Weather Moves Into The Area

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — With a mild winter and warmer spring temps, tick season is expected to be bad this year.

Avid outdoorsman Rick Spicer got bit by a tick two years ago. He went a week without thinking much about it, but after getting a fever and severe aches and pains, he went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

“It's one of those things think oh it's not going to happen to me but at the same time when it happens it's a wakeup call,” Spicer said. “It's a really awful experience but fortunately I was able to get the proper medication and it took a while, but I was able to get over it but it`s not an experience I would wish on anyone.”

Entomologist David Theuret said it's hard to predict what the tick population will be from year to year but said a recent report shows the number of people getting tick-borne illnesses is steadily increasing, which is probably because of better reporting and testing.

“The first thing to remember is that not every tick bite is necessarily going to mean that somebody is going to get sick, but there are lots of proven prevention methods that people can take to protect themselves, their families and their animals,” Theuret said.

Spicer who is also co-owner of Pack Rat Outdoor Center now makes sure to take the proper precautions and encourages everyone else to also. The product he recommends is called permethrin that you treat your clothes with, not your skin.

“You don't want to spray it on the garments while you are wearing them. Hang them up on a clothesline or hanger and saturate them and you'll need to let them dry, but after that, it does a really good job of keeping the ticks off of you," Spicer said. "So that's the most important one and one of the ones that I feel works the best.”

If you've been outside, make sure to check yourself, your kids and pets for ticks because they say if ticks are removed within a few hours it lessens the chance of the tick transmitting the disease. If you went camping or hiking make sure to also check your gear for ticks.

It's also recommended to create a tick-safe zone in your yard by clearing out tall grass and brush around your home and the edge of the lawn.

You can also restrict tick migration by putting a 3 ft. wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas and around patios and play equipment.

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