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Tick population growing in Omaha as weather warms up

Posted at 3:02 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 16:02:34-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The great outdoors can become not so great when you spot one, two or even seven ticks after a hike.

That’s what happened to Paige Day, who recently found ticks not only on herself but on her dog, too.

“Panicked for just a second because it’s kind of an odd sensation to have a tick on your head,” said Day.

She said ticks are a problem all over Omaha, with many taking to social media to complain.

“I definitely feel like they’re out in full force more so than they normally are,” said Day.

Jody Green, an entomologist with Nebraska Extension, said there are a few reasons why that could be.

“Normally peak tick season is in May, but since we had warmer temperatures and more people were going outside, we had people talking about ticks and sending us pictures in the beginning of March," said Green.

There’s a variety of species of ticks, but only black-legged ticks, also called deer ticks, carry the specific bacteria that can transmit Lyme Disease.

The last time we saw them in Omaha was 2019.

“We do have the American dog tick and the lone star tick and they can also spread different diseases, just not Lyme Disease,” said Green.

Tick lifespan

Courtesy of CDC

Removing ticks properly is important, both to keep yourself safe and for the tick to be properly identified.

If the tick is on you, simply remove it and place it in a bag. If it’s embedded in your skin…

“You want to use pointy tweezers and get the tick as close to the skin as possible and then pull straight up,” said Green.

How to remove ticks

Courtesy of CDC

Dr. Rudy Kotula, an infectious disease physician with Methodist Physicians Clinic, said some Lyme Disease symptoms to look out for include…

“Headaches, fevers, you know, and you develop a rash. Up to 70-80% of patients develop a rash,” said Dr. Kotula.

Symptoms need to be treated quickly with antibiotics. The longer you wait, the worse it gets.

“It can penetrate other tissues. It can penetrate the brain, it can penetrate the heart, it can penetrate the nerves,” said Dr. Kotula.

Dr. Kotula added that ticks shouldn’t prevent people from enjoying nature, especially after a year of staying mostly inside.

“Please get outside but educate yourself,” said Dr. Kotula.

Some ways to prevent tick bites include staying in the middle of trails, using insect repellent and doing tick checks on yourself and your animals.

Courtesy of CDC
Courtesy of CDC

It's also important to keep the tick in case you start to feel sick so it can be identified.

There is an app and website called Tick Tag Go that can help identify ticks.

See more information on ticks from the CDC here.

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