Tick Season in West Virginia
Ticks are small, blood-sucking parasites that can transmit an array of diseases to humans and animals. Different varieties of ticks are found in all regions of the United States, primarily in wooded areas where they attach themselves to grasses, weeds, and trees. Ticks do not jump onto their hosts, they must come in direct contact in order to be picked up.
Ticks in West Virginia – Though some types of ticks can survive year-round, prime tick season in West Virginia is considered March through December. The most common ticks in West Virginia are dog ticks, blacklegged (deer) ticks, and lone state ticks. Over the past ten years, the incidence of tick-borne diseases has been increasing in West Virginia.
Lyme Disease – Blacklegged (deer) ticks are the most common carrier of Lyme Disease, an infection typically characterized by a bullseye rash, fever, headaches, or tiredness. A tick must be attached to its host for at least 36 hours before the bacteria is able to spread. If caught early, Lyme Disease can be easily treated with an antibiotic; however, it is common for an infected person to be unaware of the infection for weeks, if not months. Untreated, the disease can progress into neurological symptoms, which is why it is so important to be vigilant.
Other tick-borne diseases include, but are not limited to, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis, and tularemia. These are far less common in West Virginia than Lyme Disease.
Protect yourself from ticks – It is far easier to protect yourself from ticks than deal with the repercussions of contracting a tick-borne disease. Use tick repellent when hiking or spending time outside and wear long sleeve tops and pants to minimize the amount of exposed skin. Check yourself thoroughly and shower promptly. Ticks prefer warm areas, such as underarms, belly button, behind the knees, and between the legs.
Protect your pets from ticks – Year-round anti-tick and flee medications are recommended for house pets. If your pet spends lots of time outside, particularly in tall grasses or wooded areas, check your pet for ticks just like you would check yourself.
What to do if you’ve been bitten – The CDC recommends removing the tick as soon as possible using clean tweezers. Make sure to remove the entire body. If you are experiencing symptoms of Lyme Disease or any other tick-borne diseases, plan to see a doctor. Follow the same guidelines if your pet has been bitten.
Learn more about ticks here.