Tick risk now widespread in Michigan

Experts urge people to check self, kids for ticks whenever time is spent outdoors

Tick risk now widespread in Michigan

Warm weather is returning to Michigan, and so, too, is the risk from ticks.

Experts say that ticks are not just an “up north problem” in Michigan anymore -- the arachnids have been on the move out of the woods for years now. Ticks are a growing problem in Michigan, showing up at soccer fields, parks, and even your own backyard.

The blacklegged tick, in particular, can transmit Lyme disease. Tick season is officially here, and Michiganders should keep the arachnids on their radar when spending time outdoors.

In the video above, you can see a map of just how widespread the risk of ticks has become. On the map, counties are labeled red if they have confirmed human cases or exposures, or ticks that have tested positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Speckled counties on the map are adjacent to higher-risk areas, or had blacklegged ticks present.

Ticks are most common in wooded areas or places with brush or tall grass, but they are increasingly being found in well-manicured areas, too -- like the suburbs and the cities.

More: Tick season in Michigan: How to stay safe as lyme disease risk spreads east

The arachnids may even show up at the beach. A recent study in California found numerous blacklegged ticks in the beach grass and the brushy areas leading to the sand. The beach ticks were slightly more likely to carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

The bottom line: Whenever you’re spending time outdoors, you need to be aware of ticks.

If you’re heading outside, wear insect repellent and do daily tick checks on yourself, your children and your pets. If you find a tick, quickly remove it correctly -- it greatly reduces the risk of tick-borne illness.

To remove a tick, you should grasp it with tweezers as close to the skin as possible, and carefully pull it straight out -- don’t twist it.

If you want to have it identified or tested, place the tick in a sealed bag. If it has been attached for more than 24 hours, you should call your doctor.

More: Good health tips

About the Author:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.