Uptick in ticks hits Northeast Kansas, local experts explain how to stay safe

Local News

TOPEKA (KSNT) — It’s time to break out the bug spray. An uptick in ticks is a big concern as the summer season hits Northeast Kansas and experts are not surprised.

“We’re seeing a lot of them this year,” said Leroy Russell, an Agricultural specialist with Shawnee County K-State Research and Extension. “The earliest depends on the season. This year it’s a little later because we had that nice cold spell in February.”

Different ticks can carry different types of diseases. The American Dog tick is one of the biggest threats in Kansas and this specific type can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to dogs, cats and humans.

The reported cases of tick-borne illnesses have increased in the state of Kansas according to the CDC. Seventeen years ago, the reported cases of illnesses from ticks were 12 cases. In 2018 and 2019, it was nearly 300 cases.

As people continue to venture outdoors this summer, there are a few things to keep in mind.

“They do drop from trees or shrubs or things like that. They can drop on you and attach,” Russell said.

Experts said you can limit tick bites by wearing the right kind of clothing outside.

“So it’s quite fashionable,” said Ariel Whitely-Noll, a gardening expert with Shawnee County K-State Research and Extension. “Long sleeves, long pants and to make it really nice, tuck those pants into your socks. So it looks a little bit goofy but it can help you a lot. Even a hat.”

If a tick does attach, it’s important to remove it properly.

“You get tweezers and pull sort of straight up from the skin as best as possible. Don’t twist,” Dr. Robert Wittler, with the University of Kansas Medical Center, said.

That way, you aren’t leaving body parts of the tick behind. When checking for ticks, experts said to look closely along elastic areas like the waistband. It is also important to check pets regularly.

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