Ticks are Back in the Northland

Posted at: 05/08/2013 6:37 PM
Updated at: 05/08/2013 6:39 PM
By: Travis Dill

Deer ticks can carry Lyme disease, but antibiotics used to treat it are in short supply. Local vets also said a tick medication for pets may be less effective this year.

Spring arrived in the Northland this week, and many are headed outdoors to enjoy it. But even a quick trek through brush in the backyard can leave you finding ticks according to Dr. Johan Bakken.

“And they do crawl pretty fast. You'd be amazed at the speed with which they can travel,” Bakken said.

The infectious disease consultant for St. Luke's said there are easy steps to keep them off your skin.

“Long-legged pants, socks tucked outside of the pants make it harder for the ticks to find naked skin,” Bakken said.

But he said deer ticks are as small as a pinhead, and can carry Lyme disease. A red bullseye rash around a tick bite is a sign of infection according to Bakken.

But the antibiotic used to fight the infection is in short supply in Minnesota. The drug, doxycycline, is used to treat skin infections and even pneumonia. The cost for a pill has jumped from $.08 to over $3 according to Fairview Health Services.

Tick season hits family pets as well, but local veterinarians said a tick medication for pets is not as effective as it once was.

“Frontline was an outstanding product for a very long time. It has been around for a ling time and over that period of time ticks have slowly built up a resistance. It kills some; we just don't see complete kill which is really important with the diseases ticks can carry,” Animial Allies Veterinarian Mary Wictor said.

She said the shelter has switched to new medications to keep ticks off the four-legged friends they care for.

So whether it's the family pet or your own skin, keep a watch out for the pesky parasites.