It's time to start preparing for what could be a bumper crop of ticks across the U.S. As the last of the winter's snow melts in the upper Midwest, ticks start coming up from under the grass looking for a blood meal.
In this "Mayo Clinic Minute," Bobbi Pritt, M.D., a Mayo Clinic parasitic diseases expert, explains an easy trick to remember the best ways to protect yourself from tick bites.
Prepare yourself. It could be a long spring and summer when it comes to ticks.
"The ticks will just burrow under the leaf litter and hang out for the winter," says Dr. Pritt. "And, as soon as the ground thaws and the snow melts, they will come out. And then they are going to be hungry."
Dr. Pritt says after a relatively mild winter, ticks have gotten an early start, which means it's time to start protecting yourself. She suggests the "ABCs" of tick prevention.
"So 'A' is for avoid," she says. "You want to know where ticks are found, and avoid those areas, so tall grasses, tall shrubs. Ticks can't fly. They can't jump. But they can crawl up vegetation, and they extend their legs. And they wait for something to come by."
If you can't avoid, "B" is for bug spray. Dr. Pritt suggests anything with DEET.
And "C" is for clothing . . . making sure not to leave skin exposed for ticks to bite into. But if you are bitten by a tick, look for signs you've been infected with Lyme disease. If you see a rash that looks like a bull's-eye or you start getting a fever, chills, or body aches, see your health care provider.