How to stay safe from ticks this summer as Lyme disease cases have increased in Ohio

A couple of kayakers float down Twin Creek for overnight camping and fishing near West Alexander JIM NOELKER/STAFF.
Caption
A couple of kayakers float down Twin Creek for overnight camping and fishing near West Alexander JIM NOELKER/STAFF.

As summer gets into full swing, residents should be wary of ticks when spending time outdoors, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources warned.

Ticks can carry diseases such as Lyme disease that could be transmitted to humans. Cases of Lyme disease have steadily increased in the past decade in Ohioans from 44 cases in 2010 to 468 in 2019.

Last year, the state reported 404 cases. So far this year, 99 cases of Lyme disease have been reported.

The state agency recommended people participating in outdoor activities should avoid interactions with ticks and use permethrin-based bug repellent, wear light-colored clothing and tuck their pants into their socks.

If a tick attaches itself to your skin, ODNR outlined steps to take to ensure it is removed safely, according to recent news release. Products such as petroleum jelly, nail polish, alcohol, cigarettes or matches should not be used.

“To remove a tick, use tweezers or gloved hands,” the release read. “Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out with steady, even pressure.”

ODNR said it should be detached as soon as it is discovered.

“Ohioans are at greatest risk for contracting tick-borne disease from June through August, but Lyme disease is possible year-round,” Dr. Glen Needham, associate professor emeritus at the Ohio State University, said in the news release.

Pets are also at risk for attracting ticks. Waynesville resident Annika Belt was walking her dogs Arrow and Sweetpea at Sugarcreek Metro Park last week. They frequently spend time outdoors, and ticks have been a nuisance to her and her pets this summer.

“(Arrow) has had seven to eight ticks,” she stated. “One time I pulled three off of him in a day.”

Ticks seems to have grown in magnitude this year, Belt says.

“They seem to be more prevalent, especially in the grassy areas,” she said. “I’ve noticed them in past years, but there seem to be quite a few more (this year).”

Belt, who has a degree in animal science from the University of Findlay, believes several environmental factors are contributing to the large number of ticks present around the Dayton region. The past year’s uncharacteristically warm winter and the area’s high humidity levels could play a role, she said.

For Belt, tick prevention is the best way to minimize the pests’ impact on her daily life. Both of her dogs receive multiple anti-tick treatments, including a topical option and a natural anti-tick spray, she says.

“(Tick prevention) is extremely important,” she stated. “Always look over yourself and your animals and kids. Make sure to take all the preventatives you can.”