Spring has only just arrived, but tick season is well under way. Physicians are seeing new cases of tick-borne illness several weeks earlier than usual, likely because a mild winter in much of the country made life easier for ticks and their offspring. That means it’s time for gardeners, hikers, pet owners and others who spend time outdoors to take steps to protect themselves -- and to watch for symptoms of tick-borne illness if they do come in contact with the tiny bloodsuckers.
“We’ve already started getting positives for tick-borne disease such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and babesiosis,” says Bobbi Pritt, M.D., a Mayo Clinic microbiologist and director of the Clinical Parasitology and Virology Laboratories. That is a month or two earlier than normal for Minnesota and other states with unusually warm weather in recent months are likely seeing the same.