Veterinarians worried about new kind of tick on the rise


It's a problem that's only getting worse: ticks.

Veterinarians are seeing more this year than last year. And the concern is the type of tick they're seeing and the disease it's known for carrying.They're called black legged ticks or "deer ticks," and they carry Lyme Disease.

Up until about a couple years ago, local veterinarians rarely saw them, if ever. Now they're seeing them on a daily basis.

Klay Shorthouse and his dog, Jasper, are often exploring.

"We get out a lot, just hike trails locally, do some of the parks in the county," Klay said.

A couple weeks ago, Klay and his four legged friend brought a little of the wilderness back home.

"I found one and then I found another one and it kind of became a game because at one point he was ahead five ticks to four, he had five I had four," he said.

Between the two of them, there were 13 ticks. Their walk lasted only 40 minutes.

"I think we got ambushed," Klay said.

With the long winter, many people assumed ticks wouldn't be as bad this year, but a local veterinarian says the opposite has happened.

"I think what happened is the ground got so frozen, the ticks like to be buried down in the ground and so it's made them come out even worse this year," said Dr. Nikki Boehman with University Park Veterinary Hospital.

What's even more troubling is the rise in black legged ticks. They're much smaller than the common brown dog tick, but pose a bigger threat because they carry lyme disease.

"There are documented deaths," Boehman said. "People get really sick and it's something that once you have it, you have it for life; you can't get rid of it."

A whopping 95% of dogs show no symptoms. In fact, the veterinarian says they can live their entire lives without any problems, but the remaining five percent will get swollen joints. If the disease spreads to the kidney, the dog will die.

"Basically for animals the thing we want to do is we want to get them tested for sure, make sure they don't already have it," Boehman said. "If they do, then we want to treat them and then make sure you're putting on your monthly flea and tick preventative."

It's something Klay already does. So whether it's the common tick or black legged one, Jasper will be safe and sound.

Veterinarians say black legged ticks spread from Michigan, Wisconsin and the east coast. Deer, rodents and birds serve as hosts, allowing the tick to travel long distances.

If you find a tick on you or your pet, don't panic. The CDC says if you remove it within 24 hours, you can greatly reduce your chances of getting Lyme Disease.

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