Give Now

Delays, Closings and Severe Weather - View All Alerts and Updates

Researchers Expecting Dangerous Tick Season After Mild Winter

(Creative commons/Pixabay)

Scientists are predicting a dangerous tick season this year, and Hoosier health professionals are keeping their eyes on the little vectors.

Researchers like Indiana University biology professor Keith Clay says Indiana’s warmer winter means more ticks survive from summer to spring.

“It’s also conducive to the animal population they depend on for blood meals, mice, chipmunks other small rodents,” says Clay.

Clay is also a member of the Prepared for Environmental Change Research Team – a newly-funded effort to measure the impact of the environment on things like public health, including an increase in insects that carry diseases.

IU School of Medicine Microbiology Immunology department chair Dr. Stan Spinola says, in Indiana, those diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis.

“The one I fear the most is Rocky Mountain spotted fever, because there is a fairly high mortality rate associated with that disease if it’s not recognized and treated,” says Spinola.

Spinola says, luckily, all three diseases are easily treated with antibiotics, and a tick has to be attached for two to three days to transit.

Both experts point out the number of ticks transmitting disease is slowing increasing. Clay says environmental changes are at play.

“They are increasing due to climate change, due to human land use, due to our own activities,” Clay says.

In Indiana, there were about 100 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in 2014, compared 26 cases eight years earlier.

Health professionals recommend taking precautions against ticks like using repellent, wearing long sleeves and doing tick checks.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media News:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From