Warmer weather increases risk of tick-borne illnesses across Piedmont

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Keeping ticks away from your pets gets more and more difficult the more it warms up in North Carolina.

With the start of May the state sees a heightened risk for Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other diseases that are tick-borne.

“Ticks are nasty little creatures they are very hard to kill,” said Dr. Jessica Taylor, a veterinarian with Guilford-Jamestown Veterinary Hospital.

Ticks don’t fly or jump but wait in grass or shrubs to jump on dogs, deer and other animals. Once they latch onto animal or human skin they can pass along the diseases.

“They can be fatal,” said Taylor. “A lot of the diseases are treatable with antibiotics and supportive care but the best way to protect your animal is to prevent infection in the first place.”

Those methods include oral medication for pets, a topical treatment given once a month or using flea and tick collars.

Even someone who uses the oral medication, though knows how important it is to check her dog after every trip to the park.

“I usually take the wooded trails and with that you always have more of a concern with the ticks, especially because they're going to on the grasses and the branches,” said Meg Shepler, who has seen friends bit by ticks and need medication to recover.

Taylor said wherever your pet can pick up a tick you can as well including in your backyard or on a trail. She recommends running your fingers through warm, soft spots on your dog like behind their ears, the elbows of their legs and their paws searching for ticks.

Removing a tick should be done with tweezers by pulling the arachnid from the skin and not by smashing it or scorching it with a match or lighter.

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