Four confirmed cases of Lyme Disease have been reported to the Belmont County Health Department already this spring.
Officials suspect the unseasonably mild winter allowed more ticks than usual to survive and flourish,.
Health department officials say the deer tick is tiny.
The adult is only the size of the letter “D” on a dime.
And the larva is the size of a grain of pepper.
Their bite looks like a bullseye.
It can also cause swollen joints, fatigue, palsy or flu-like symptoms.
If the tick is still hanging on, they say you need to remove it carefully and completely.
“Have a pair of tweezers and place them as close to the skin as possible,” said Rich Lucas, environmental specialist at the Belmont County Health Department. “Grab the tick at the front of the head and pull it straight up out.”
How you dispose of the tick afterward is also important.
“Some people will actually put them in a small flame-resistant can and burn them,” Lucas notes. “But basically the best thing to do is to put them in a piece of tissue and flush them down the toilet. Don’t smash them. That can spread the bacteria.”
Anyone walking in the woods is urged to use insect repellent, tuck pants into socks, wear light colored clothing and stay on the path.
Long term undetected Lyme Disease can cause serious problems.
“It can cause joint issues, headaches, fatigue, so you really want to see your physician as soon as possible to get treatment,” said Lucas.
They say dogs can be affected by the deer tick as well.
Pet owners are urged to see their veterinarian about preventive measures.