Researchers say tick and lyme disease could be at an all-time high

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COLUMBIA - Summer is around the corner and according to researchers so is an increase in the number of Lyme disease cases. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said there are about 300,000 cases of Lyme disease every year, which is triple the rate from 20 years ago. But scientist have predicted this summer will be one of the worst for ticks and lyme disease. 

Boone County Community Department of Health and Human services representative, Eric Stann, said he's unsure of what tick season will look like for Columbia this summer, but its important to take certain preventative steps especially when you've been outside for long amounts of time.

"If you've been working outdoors or have gone on a hike and have walked through an area of tall grass or heavily wooded area, do a body check," Stann said.

He said the body check consists of checking your skin and hair to feel for ticks. Stann said sometimes, there aren't any symptoms but when there are, they are flu-like or produce a rash. He said the sooner you get looked at, the better.

"Ticks can transmit serious and potentially fatal diseases,"  he said. "Many of these symptoms can be treated effectively when caught early."

Stann said if you do happen to find a tick, tweezers are the best way to remove them. He said some of the best ways to prevent ticks are by wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants when doing yard work and spraying deet before heading outdoors. 

Park Natural Resource Supervisor, Brett O'Brien, said the city doesn't normally spray for ticks and when people are out enjoying the trails and parks this summer they shouldn't have anything to worry about. 

"Most of the areas that people visit, like playgrounds and athletic fields, there won't be any ticks out there," O'Brien said. "When areas are mowed or if an area has a hard surface, it won't attract ticks." 

O'Brien said ticks are normally in areas where there are a lot weeds and brush.