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Home » Resources » Health » Watch Out: Hot Weather Means More Ticks

Watch Out: Hot Weather Means More Ticks


This summer, whether it’s mowing your lawn, taking a hike, or at an outdoor festival, there’s a good chance you might encounter a tick or two.

Tick populations cycle through the year and their numbers depend on a few factors. The first peak of tick season starts in spring and continues through summer, with most activity between June and August. The second peak occurs from October to November, when the weather is rainy and the air is moist, but not yet cold.

As average temperatures continue to climb due to climate change, there is some concern that the peaks will last longer in the future, increasing Lyme disease rates. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the number of reported Lyme disease cases has doubled over the last 25 years.

Lyme Disease

Shania Twain was getting ready to go on tour in 2003 when she was bitten by a tick and infected with Lyme disease. She says she felt very dizzy on stage, losing her balance, and her voice was damaged by the effects of dysphonia as a result.

Lyme disease, also called borreliosis, was first detected in 1975, when many children received a diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in Lyme, Connecticut, and in two neighboring towns. Researchers found that bites from infected deer ticks were responsible for the outbreak.

Not all ticks carry Lyme disease bacteria. Depending on the location, anywhere from less than 1% to more than 50% of ticks are infected. About 20% to 30% of the blacklegged tick nymphs that emerge in the Northeast and Midwest this summer will be carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, experts estimate.

Lyme disease symptoms tend to start between three and 30 days after a bite occurs and can include fever, headache, fatigue, and a bullseye-like rash. If you get bitten and develop symptoms, see a doctor for treatment with antibiotics.

Lyme disease may evolve through phases (stages) which can overlap and cause symptoms that may involve the skin, joints, heart, or nervous system. The stages are:

  • Early localized Lyme disease—weeks one through four
  • Early disseminated Lyme disease—months one through four
  • Late persistent, late disseminated, or just late Lyme disease—four months, up to years later

Symptoms of Early Lyme Disease:

A common symptom of early Lyme Disease is a reddish rash or skin lesion known as erythema rash or skin lesion known as erythema migraines (EM). The rash starts as a small red spot at the site of the tick bite anywhere from one week to four weeks after the bite. The spot expands over a period of days or weeks, forming a circular, triangular, or oval-shaped rash. The rash may look like a bullseye because it appears as a red ring that surrounds a clear center area. As infection spreads, EM rashes (lesions) can appear at different sites.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Body and joint aches
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen glands

Second Stage Lyme Disease Symptoms:

  • Multiple areas of rash
  • Paralysis of facial muscles (Bell’s palsy)
  • Heart block or an interruption of the electrical system of the heart
  • Areas of numbness or abnormal feelings (neuropathy)

Symptoms of Untreated Lyme Disease:

May appear months to a year after infection and include:

  • Recurring episodes of swollen joints (arthritis) typically of large joints like the knee
  • Difficulty concentrating, known as brain fog
  • Damage to nerves, including skin, muscles, and organs (polyneuropathy)


Patients may face an uphill battle once it’s detected, but first it’s a battle to get the correct diagnosis. Songwriter and actor Kris Kristofferson of Local 257 (Nashville, TN) faced a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s before he was tested and diagnosed with Lyme disease. After many years of suffering with painful fibromyalgia, memory loss, and depression, he began aggressive treatment for Lyme disease and his health improved.

A health care practitioner can diagnose Lyme disease based on symptoms, physical findings (like a rash), and whether or not you’ve been in an area populated by infected ticks. Your provider will confirm the diagnosis using a blood test. If the first blood test is negative for Lyme disease, you won’t need another test. If the first test is positive or equivocal, your provider will conduct the test again. You must have two positive (or sometimes equivocal) results for an official diagnosis.


Ticks prefer wooded areas, low-growing grasslands, and yards. Be especially careful in areas where grassy property and woods meet.

Ticks tend to perch on ankle-level vegetation with their upper legs outstretched, waiting to latch on to an unsuspecting dog or human.

Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when hiking. Use insect repellent that contains the ingredient DEET. After an outdoor activity, examine carefully for ticks. If you have young children and pets, take time to examine them as well. Visually check all areas of the body and run fingers gently over skin.

Ticks are harder to see when they are young, so look carefully and immediately pull them off with tweezers. The CDC does not recommend sending individual ticks to testing services for analysis, because a person might get more than one tick bite and the results from the tested tick may not be sufficient information.

According to researchers, the blacklegged tick population has been expanding for at least four decades. Stay vigilant and treat symptoms as soon as possible for best outcome. Early antibiotic therapy can prevent Lyme disease. If you develop symptoms, get tested right away.

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