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What you need to know about ticks in Florida

Not only are ticks gross, they can cause diseases and other health conditions.

TAMPA, Fla. — New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the tick-borne illness Lyme disease is more common in the U.S. than previously thought.

This is concerning considering the COVID-19 pandemic has sent many of us outdoors more often as a safe way to stay active. It's good to know what kind of ticks you might encounter here in Florida and what you need to look for after a day at the park.

Lyme disease is the most prominent concern with ticks. The symptoms can be similar to a cold or flu illness or even COVID-19. 

Michael Bentley, an educator with the National Pest Management Association talked to 10 Tampa Bay about some of the ticks you could see in Florida.

"There's four that really jump off the page. That's the black-legged tick, the lone star tick, the American dog tick, and the brown dog tick."

The black-legged tick is the culprit behind the spread of Lyme disease. However, that's not the only health problem ticks can cause.  

"In a very small percentage of cases, folks that are bitten by lone star ticks have a unique reaction to the proteins in the saliva of the tick bite that leads to a medical condition called the red meat allergy."

You should check for ticks anytime you've been outdoors, especially near tall grass and trees. Ticks like to hide along your scalp or any place on your body that has a natural seam or crease.  

"It's really important that you use fine tip tweezers and you grab the tick at the very base of its mouth parts. that's right where the tick meets the surface of the skin and you lift straight up."

If you do find a tick, save it in a plastic bag. A pest professional would be able to identify it and treat your home or yard if needed. Also, it would be helpful for a doctor to see it if you start to experience any complications from a tick bite.

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