Practitioners are advised to be aware of ticks while working outdoors. We have received a number of reports recently of individuals encountering ticks in the landscape. It is possible to speculate that prolonged mild temperatures this winter along with little snow cover have reduced tick mortality, but ticks as a general rule are resilient and can be active any time that temperatures are above freezing. Furthermore, the same unseasonable conditions that have increased tick activity have also increased the activity of people in and around tick habitat, which greatly increases the potential for tick bites to humans and also pets.
The most notorious offender here in Massachusetts is the Black-Legged Tick (also known as the Deer Tick), Ixodes scapularis. This tick is most well-known as a carrier of Lyme disease, but can also transmit other serious infections such as Babesiosis and Anaplasmosis.
For general information about ticks in Massachusetts, as well as tips for protecting yourself, refer to the following fact sheet from Cape Cod Extension: One Bite Can Change Your Life... Tick-Borne Diseases are Preventable
Another great fact sheet from Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, on the use of tick repellents: Don’t Let One Bite Change Your Life…A Guide to the Use of Tick Repellents
The Laboratory of Medical Zoology at UMass tests ticks for the presence of Lyme disease and other disease pathogens. For more information about these services, as well as general information about ticks, tick biology, and links to other useful resources, visit https://ag.umass.edu/services/tick-borne-disease-diagnostics.
Submitted by: Jason Lanier