WASHOUGAL, Wash. – Cases of Lyme disease are on the rise in the Northwest, and health officials have warned people to look out for ticks.
Ticks usually become active in April and experts said this year is no exception. As the weather warms up people head outside more, and they and their animals start getting bitten by the creatures, which carry Lyme disease.
In Washington, as many as 23 cases are reported each year. In Oregon the number’s even higher, and it’s growing. The state had 20 reports of Lyme disease in 2006 and that number had grown to 48 cases by last year.
Experts have said expanding tick populations are to blame, in part. But they added that people can protect themselves by wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts when hiking or camping, and using repellent when necessary. Light-colored clothing can also help people more easily notice ticks.
Hiker John Christensen said it’s a danger for which he’s prepared.
“I just check myself out very thoroughly when we get home,” he said. “You can check yourself, your socks your shoes, and whatever.”
Experts also said people should thoroughly check their pets for ticks.
KGW Reporter Keely Chalmers contributed to this report.