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2021 slated to be a bad year for ticks in Ohio

The disease carrying bloodsuckers are in every county in the state, looking to make a meal of you or your pet.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The great outdoors is calling, and people are shaking off COVID cabin fever.

But be warned: Ticks are waiting and they're hungry.

"We have really three ticks in the state we need to worry about," Dr. Norm Tulodziecki, a retired veterinarian and co-host of Inside the Great Outdoors radio, said.

In his 44 years in practice, Tulodzieki's learned a lot about ticks. Brown dog ticks used to be the most common,

"But about 11 or 12 years ago, we started seeing the black-legged tick, the deer ticks," he explained.

Dr. Norm says deer ticks can be found in all 88 counties of Ohio. What makes them so dangerous is the fact that they carry Lyme Disease. So does the much rarer lone star tick.

Black-legged ticks are smaller. If you have pets, check them out after walks in grass or wooded areas.

"Up around the ears, sometimes under the neck, where they can't get at," Tulodzieki told us.

Credit: Centers for Disease Control
Black-legged tick.

Be sure to look between their toes. Ticks will go for those places where your pet can't groom them off; it's their instinct.

Also, check yourself. Everywhere. You don't have to be a hardcore outdoorsman or woman to have a run in with a tick or two. Whether you hunt, hike, go birding or just enjoy a walk in nature, you are vulnerable.

With ticks, prevention is best defense. You can spray your clothes with repellents containing Permethrin. Dr. Norm has a suggestion for your body.

"On your skin, you can use DEET, and I would say 25-30% DEET works about the best," he said.

Remember, when you get back from a trip outdoors, take a shower and wash the DEET off. It's a great time to look for ticks as well.

For pets?

"The Soresto collars for dogs, I think, are excellent," Tulodzieki said. "For cats, I'd probably use something with Fipronil in it, and there's a couple OTC drugs you can buy for cats."

He also warns not to use flea and tick medicines for dogs on cats, or vice versa. It could be fatal to your pets.

If you spend any time outside in nature, chances are you'll find a tick or two or more on you. They usually grab onto your boots or socks, then crawl for a tender spot on your body. They will attach anywhere, but like hairlines and places you can't see or reach.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The video in the player below originally aired on May 7, 2019:

If you catch one crawling on you, just pick it off. If you find an embedded tick, remove it with tweezers; don't use a match or alcohol. If you find one attached to you or a loved one or your pet, don't panic. You can put it in a ziploc sandwich bag and freeze it, or do what Dr. Norm suggests.

"If you've got questions about it, put it in a little bottle with some Purell in it and you can take it to your county health department, and they'll identify it for you or your local veterinarian."

Just because a tick is embedded in your skin doesn't mean you will get Lyme Disease. They have to be attached for at least 24 hours for the bacteria to get into your system. If you see a bullseye rash where the tick was attached, call your doctor. 

Ticks are expected to be bad this year, but that shouldn't prevent you from heading outdoors or taking your dog for walks. Bad tick experiences can be prevented.

Ticks are just being ticks. Be aware and use your repellants, and always stay on the trails.