Why Experts Are Warning of a ‘Tick Explosion’ This Summer and What It Means for You

Summer is just about here—arguably everyone’s favorite time of year. The warm weather is especially exciting if you live on the East Coast, since we’re recovering from all the snow and cold weather, and can just look forward to doing things outside.

But no matter where you live, it’s important to take precautions if you’re going to be outside a lot this season, especially in woodsy areas where ticks breed. Experts believe there’s going to be an abundance of ticks—specifically, deer ticks—this year, due to some unusual early spring weather when snow emerged in several coasts.

You probably know that ticks can spread Lyme disease, but they can also spread a number of others as well—and that number is just going up and up. In fact the number of illnesses being transmitted by ticks, as well as by mosquitos and fleas, have recently tripled in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with more than 60 percent of diseases being from ticks.

Deer ticks are the ones to be especially concerned about, as they’re the only ones who spread Lyme disease. About 300,000 Americans get Lyme each year, according to the CDC, with a total of 402,502 cases reported between 2004-2016.—and that number is said to likely increase this year due to the recent tick-splosion.

Lyme has varying degrees of seriousness, but it usually starts off with a red bulls-eye-shaped rash that can appear anywhere on your body. From there, you might experience all sorts of flu-like symptoms, from fever and chills to fatigue and joint pain.

If Lyme goes untreated for a long period of time, you might start to develop sharp, shooting pains in your hands and feet, nerve pain, an irregular heartbeat, facial paralysis, and other unpleasant affects. That’s why it’s important to stop it before it starts. After being in the woods or brush type of areas, make tick checks a routine. Deer ticks can be incredibly hard to see, so you might have to really examine your bodies thoroughly to ensure you don’t have any ticks on you.

If you do see a tick and it isn’t latched on, you can likely remove it with your fingers or tweezes and flush it down the toilet. If it’s latched on, first things first: don’t panic. Use tweezers to grasp as close to the tick’s skin’s surface as closely as possible. Pull in an upward motion with “steady, even pressure,” the CDC says.

Once the tick is removed, clean the area where it was with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. If you’d like a doctor to examine the tick, place it in a sealed bag/container; otherwise, flush it down the toilet. Don’t crush it and throw it away; it’s very hard to kill ticks in this way.

One father and singer and songwriter who has been battling Lyme for quite some period of time wasn’t able to catch the deer tick ahead of time. While under control now, his Lyme was once so bad he suffered memory loss and body aches. Check out the video below for more on his story, and warnings about the recent tick explosion:

Have you or someone you know ever gotten Lyme disease before? Have you ever caught a tick on you before?