Updated Tue, Apr 3, 2012 4:41 pm
Unseasonably warm spring weather is attracting people outdoors earlier than most years, but it's also attracting the ticks.
Within the past few years, there has been an increase in black-legged ticks, more commonly known as deer ticks, which have been known to carry lyme disease.
Charles Hammer, an administrator the Athens County Health Department, said that it used to be very rare to find a black-legged tick in Ohio.
"Most of the cases of lyme disease that occurred in Ohio used to be traced to some travel outside of the state. But now we're seeing more cases that appear to be unrelated to any travel," said Hammer.
Hammer adds that the cause of the increase is unknown, but the numbers are staggering.
In 2010, the Ohio Department of Health said they found black-legged ticks in 14 Ohio counties. Since 2011, they have been found in 53 state counties.
There are 12 known species of ticks that live in Ohio, but only 3, including the black-legged tick, can spread disease.
The American Dog tick is the primary transmitter of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and the Lone Star tick is known to transmit human anaplasmosis.
Hammer said that people should not be afraid to go outside because of these parasites because, if caught early enough, all of these diseases can be treated with an antibiotic.