Health Officials Say Mild Winter Could Make for a Terrible Tick Season
Lynchburg, VA - They're tiny but ticks can pack a huge punch.
And on days like Monday, at 82 degrees, everyone it seems was outside taking advantage of the summer-like weather.
But, ticks are out and about enjoying the same weather, and looking for people to prey on. And officials are saying, get ready, because this year ticks are back with a vengeance.
A mild winter led to reports of tick bites as early as February this year, and it's only going to get worse.
"I thought I had the flu. It was fever, stomach ache, exhaustion" said ABC 13 Videographer, Levi Washburn.
But it wasn't the flu. What knocked out ABC 13 Videographer, Levi Washburn was a bite from a tick.
"I went hiking on Saturday and I had a rash on Monday, I thought it was an odd breakout and it would go away" he said.
But by Wednesday he had a temperature of 102, courtesy of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
"I think that's when I got it, laying in the grass. I came back and I didn't know I'd been bit" he said.
"They really like to kind of ambush you and live where you've got a lot of leaf litter and weeds and stuff" said Health Department Environmental Manager, Steve Simpson.
Simpson says Levi did everything all wrong.
He wandered off the trail, laid in high grass, didn't wear any insect repellent and left out maybe the most important part "Anytime you've been out and you think there might be a tick, when you get home, check your whole body" said Simpson.
Simpson says checking for the tiny terrors can make a world of difference.
"Even if a tick does bite you, if you can find it and remove it properly within about 24 hours, the likelihood of you getting any of these diseases is really small" he said.
Other precautions to prevent five potential tick related illnesses include using insecticides and repellants, wearing long pants and sleeves, and always staying on the trail.
But Simpson says hiking isn't a tick's only opportunity to strike, "There's more tick bites in the back yard than there are out on a hiking trail because you're in the backyard more frequently" he said.
Your spring will be tick free if you're very cautious.
Also important; if you think you've been bit, you begin to get some flu like symptoms, don't hesitate, head to the doctor to get checked, because the longer you wait, you could potentially be doing more damage.