Tick Season Begins in ND

Published: May. 12, 2020 at 8:36 PM CDT
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North Dakota Department of Health employees said residents are reporting lots of ticks already this season.

Locals say they've noticed a spike in ticks since the weather warmed up. However, the Department of Health hasn't been able to confirm that claim due to a lack of numbers.

One of Xavier Scott's favorite pastimes is going down to the creek outside his home.

"I went down once and I woke up the next morning. I was like, 'man there's something on my neck.' And, I pick at my neck and I thought it was a mole," said Mandan Resident Scott.

But, it wasn't a mole.

"I pick up a tick and I'm like, 'well crap.' It's a tick," Scott said.

Epidemiologists at the DoH say he's not the only resident who's noticed an increase.

Due to a lack of funding, they haven't been able to track 2020's tick numbers.

However, employees say a spike at this time is common.

"You can find ticks out anytime that the temperature is above freezing. So, as soon as it starts warming up, be on the alert for ticks," said NDDOH Enteric Vector Borne and Zoonotic Disease Epidemiologist Laura Cronquist.

This is important because the bugs can impact your health.

"By far the most common tick in North Dakota is the American Dog Tick. It does carry a couple different diseases. So, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tuleremia are two pathogens that that tick can carry," Cronquist said.

If you have to go into a tick's habitat, Cronquist says our best bet is using tick repellent to fend them off. And, if you do get bit, the Centers for Disease Control say you can use tweezers to pull it off. But, make sure you remove its entire mouthpiece.

"In 2019, we had 61 cases of tick-borne diseases reported in North Dakota. And, that comes with the caviat that not every disease is reported to us," Cronquist said.

As someone with many tick-encounters under his belt-- Scott has some advice.

"They'll suck your blood, but don't freak out," he said.

Cronquist agrees. She says you should only see a doctor if you exhibit symptoms of illness.

For more information on symptoms or instructions on removing a tick from your skin you can visit CDC.gov.