Washington Could Witness Increased Tick Population

According to Rich Zack, professor of entomology at Washington State University in Pullman, this year, people of Washington might witness an increased population of ticks owing to the mild and wet spring weather conditions, which are extremely conducive for ticks.

Health officials are recommending being watchful in an effort to prevent illnesses and complexities that can happen due to tick bites. The recommendation comes despite the fact that ticks prevalent in Central and Eastern Washington are not likely to result in Lyme disease.

People and animals get in contact with ticks when these tiny creatures drop onto them from the ends of branches hanging lower towards the ground. The Western black-legged tick, scientifically known as Ixodes pacificus, which is responsible for causing Lyme disease, primarily is found in the western region of Washington.

However, Eastern Washington experiences Rocky Mountain spotted fever due to ticks, though it is extremely rare. Species of the ticks found in this region are the Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni) and the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus singuineus) that can be found across the state.

“The only downside to the ticks we have here would be, sometimes they can build up into very large numbers. Do I get a few little ticks I can’t see that cause Lyme disease, which I do not want, or do I pick ticks off me for the rest of the day?” said Zack.

He added that in this region, size of the ticks is bigger, which is actually an advantage because it makes them easily traceable. Large size ticks can be easily spotted and killed before they causing problems. Furthermore, Central Washington residents must be careful of soft ticks, known as Ornithodoros hermsi, because though they are more squishable, they are also more persistent, according to Marcia Goldoft, Medical Epidemiologist with the State Department of Health.

A report published in KIMT revealed, “Her biggest message is that people can prevent being bitten by a tick if they; dress defensively, use Deet on your skin, and permethrin on your clothes, and check yourself and your animals after spending time outside.”

“It’s so preventable, bites are so preventable and if I would have just used some protection; dressed defensively and put on some tick repellant, I could have prevented this whole thing for occurring,” explains Knocke.

“The warm El Nino winter caused the same amount of Lyme disease infection as Ridgefield normally sees during the summer and fall, according to the Ridgefield Health Department,” according to a news report published by TheRridgefieldPress.

“It’s still about the norm,” Sandberg said of the ratio, comparing the 2016 season’s early start of 20% to all of 2015, when 33% of ticks came back from the lab positive for Lyme disease.

According to a report in YakimaHerald by Molly Rosbach, “East of the Cascades, ticks can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but it’s rare. Species here include the Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni) and the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus singuineus), which is found statewide.”

“The only downside to the ticks we have here would be, sometimes they can build up into very large numbers,” Zack said. So, between the two sides of the state: “Do I get a few little ticks I can’t see that cause Lyme disease, which I do not want, or do I pick ticks off me for the rest of the day?”

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