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As summer heats up, be on watch for ticks!

Alabama's climate perfectly suits 2 kinds of ticks, experts say.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Alabama has the perfect conditions for ticks, says Michigan State University associate professor Jean Tsao. Dr. Tsao works in Michigan State's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and researches emerging infectious disease and invasive species ecology, among other topics. She warns that dense forestry, tall grass and high humidity create a stable environment for them. These conditions are especially present in the Tennessee Valley during the summer months.

“If we were to worry about ticks not doing well, it's often that they would dry out, so having those high humid conditions really helps promote ticks,” Tsaso said.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the two most common kinds you can find in the state are the lone star and gulf coast ticks. These can carry pathogens like Ehrlichiosis, which cause fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and the occasional upset stomach. It’s treatable with the antibiotic Doxycycline.

“Ehrlichiosis is the most prevalent of those, but also more recently - which I think actually can be more scary to many people - rather than a tick-borne disease is actually the Alpha-gal syndrome or red meat allergy that's associated with the lone star tick,” Tsao said.

The CDC says, Alpha-gal’s most notable symptom is an irritable rash, but symptoms vary depending on the person. Because of that variability, they suggest speaking to your healthcare provider. One of the best ways to address all kinds of tick infestations is to first check our pets.

“Dogs are at least six times more likely to pick up ticks in the woods or the grass compared to [humans], because they are down there running around frolicking foraging in the lower areas of vegetation, where it's more humid, where the ticks hanging out,” she said.

Tsao said to check with your veterinarian for the best preventative medicine for your pet because it varies on species and breed. For more information, visit CDC.gov.

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