‘Ticks are out and they’re very active’: Experts urge Minnesotans to watch for ticks

Early start to tick season in Minnesota

Early start to tick season in Minnesota

Experts are urging Minnesotans to beware of ticks, as the next few weeks are “peak transmission time” for Lyme disease in our state.

“Ticks are out and they’re very active this time of year,” said Alex Carlson, public affairs manager at Metropolitan Mosquito Control District. “They’re questing right now, which means they’re working their way toward places where they know pets and people are going to be active.”

A Minnesota Department of Health map, updated Friday, shows the risk of tickborne disease statewide. Most of the state, including parts of the metro, is now in the “high-risk” category.

“Pretty much every day we diagnose a dog or cat that’s had some sort of tick exposure,” said Andrew Brothers, a veterinarian at Pet Central Animal Hospital in Northeast Minneapolis.

He spotted his first tick in late April this year.

“Even the dog parks in the metro area, the second you get off those nicely manicured lawns, they really can be anywhere,” Brothers explained.

The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District performs tick surveillance every year.

“If you look over several decades, the tick numbers overall have been increasing. And not only that, they’ve been more widespread,” Carlson explained. “It used to be that we could kind of pinpoint the areas that were tick hotspots. Right now, everywhere’s a tick hotspot.”

He said it is possible Minnesotans will see slightly fewer ticks this summer.

“Last year we had a drought, so it’s possible we might see a slight decline in ticks this year because fewer survived the drought conditions. But the bottom line is, they’re pretty widespread at this point,” Carlson said.

He recommends spraying your clothes with permethrin before walking in wooded or grassy areas and doing daily tick checks on your children and pets.

“The important thing with Lyme disease transmission, the tick does have to be attached to you they say for about a day,” Carlson said. “If you do have a tick on you, you want to pull it off close to the head. A tweezers is really effective to have. And then once you pull it off, you want to get rid of it by putting it in some rubbing alcohol to kill it. You can also use the rubbing alcohol to wipe the skin to make sure there’s no infection.”

Brothers also recommends getting pets on a preventative flea and tick medication.

“Lyme disease is becoming more and more prevalent as the years go on,” Brothers said. “You can never be too safe.”

For more information about ticks from the Minnesota Department of Health, click here.