Experts warn that ticks are out earlier in Kentucky, due to mild - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Experts warn that ticks are out earlier in Kentucky, due to mild winter

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BULLITT COUNTY, Ky. (WDRB) -- Experts say the mild winter is bringing ticks out earlier in Kentucky this year.

It's outdoor areas where you really need to be careful, because ticks thrive in grassy, wooded places. Ticks are linked to infections like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease. 

Vicki Petsy says she found out she had Lyme disease in 2011.

"I cannot do the things I used to do, but I'm better than I was before because I didn't know I had it," Petsy said. 

She started the Kentucky Lyme Disease Association to raise awareness and provide support for people who have the disease. 

Petsy doesn't know exactly how long she's had Lyme, but thinks it could be from a childhood tick bite. 

"The tick is the most common carrier," Petsy said. "Ticks are everywhere in Kentucky. They can even be in your backyard."

Experts say the mild winter we had could be bringing ticks out earlier than normal. University of Kentucky entomologist Lee Townsend says that’s because more ticks may have survived the warmer temperatures. 

When spending time outdoors, you should wear long clothing and use bug repellent. You should also give yourself and the kids a once-over when you go inside. 

Specifically, a "full head-to-toe skin assessment to look for any teeny tiny ticks or any of the larger ones that are easy to see," Dr. Libby Mims, a pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Associates, said. 

Dr. Mims says ticks like to hide in the hair and warmer areas of the body. 

"You're going to want to look all over -- especially in the armpits or creases. Ticks love to get in those warm places and attach," she said. 

If you find a tick, remove it right away. 

Here are some tips from Norton Children's Hospital on tick removal: 

  1. Get the tweezers as close to the head of the tick as possible.
  2. Pull directly up and away from the skin to remove the tick. If you have a tight hold of it, it should come out intact, including the head. Do not pull the body of the tick, because squeezing the body can allow the tick to regurgitate the contents back into the bite, possibly causing infection. It also increases the chance the head will detach and stay embedded in the skin.
  3. If sections of the mouth parts of the tick remain in the skin, they should be left alone as they will normally be expelled naturally.
  4. Wash the affected area with warm soap and water once you have removed the tick.
  5. Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers

You should also look out for symptoms that could indicate an infection.

"If you see redness or swelling or have a fever, you should go to your pediatrician or your doctor and have it evaluated," Mims said.

For more information on ticks in Kentucky, CLICK HERE

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