Experts warn this year could be worst tick season yet - WSMV Channel 4

Experts warn this year could be worst tick season yet

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Health experts are warning people that this year could be the worst tick season in years. Tennessee's mild winter gave ticks the chance to live longer and travel to new regions.

Scientists said there are now more white-footed mice that carry tick-borne illnesses, and some Midstate veterinarians said they are seeing tick season earlier than usual.

"With the winter being short and mild, (studies are) estimating that this year the tick season could be one of the worst we've seen," said Dr. Julie Buford with Value Vet in Nashville. "We've already seen evidence. You know, I saw ticks in our patients here as early as February, which is really early."

Buford said she recently saw a dog that had over 100 ticks on it.

"We actually had to do quite a procedure to remove all of those, and the owner was really worried because they had ticks in their family, on their kids," Buford said.

Ticks are in full force across the U.S., months ahead of its normal summer season. Experts are warning about a spike in tick-borne illnesses including Lyme disease and Powassan.

"It's terrifying definitely. You just have to be a lot more careful this year, I guess," said Ellen Blossom, a dog owner.

While some diseases aren't common in the southeast, that doesn't mean you or your pet are immune.

"I took my dog Nora on a hike (last year), and we were in tall grass and I noticed when we got back from that she had a few bites," said Briley Caton, a dog owner.

People and animals travel, and ticks are hitching rides. Dog owners said they know how serious ticks can be.

"I had a friend that had a pretty nasty tick bite himself, and so you have to be really cautious of it for sure," Caton said.

Veterinarians recommend treating pets for ticks year round. If you see a tick on yourself or your pet, experts recommend using tweezers to gently remove the tick as close to the head as possible.

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