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In one week, two friends were treated for tick-borne illnesses. Time for a tick trouble update

Ticks can survive a Minnesota winter, but their go time is March through October. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams goes in-depth with a tick expert who helped discover two pathogens that ticks can carry. And both of them can make you sick.

photo black-legged tick
A black-legged tick waits to grab onto an animal or human host
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ROCHESTER — Ticks are out and ready to make a meal out of you or your pet all year long. But their high season in the Upper Midwest is March through October. Ticks carry pathogens that can cause diseases, such as Lyme disease, which is a bacterial infection.

"They're terrible," says Dr. Bobbi Pritt , the director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory at Mayo Clinic. "They're blood-sucking ectoparasites."

Pritt helped in the discovery of two new tick-born pathogens — Erlichia and Borrella mayonii. Both can cause bacterial infections in humans. She says the best way to prevent tick-borne illnesses is to avoid avoiding exposure to ticks.

"Prevention methods depend on what you're doing," says Pritt. "If you're just walking on a path and avoiding the grassy areas off of the path, you may not need much in the way of precautions. But definitely check your clothes, body, kids and pets for ticks after that walk."

Watch or listen to an in-depth interview with Dr. Pritt in this podcast. Some of her tips for tick bite prevention are below.


If you're going to be gardening, hiking or spending a lot of time outside in grassy areas, Pritt recommends that you:

  • Tuck your pants into your socks and wear a long sleeve shirt if the weather is not too hot. The less skin you have exposed, the lower your chances are of getting bitten by a tick.
  • Use a tick repellent that's been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and that contains DEET. Follow directions on the label and spray exposed skin.
  • Saturate clothing with a tick repellent, such as permethrin .

If you do find a tick attached to your body, Pritt recommends using fine-tip tweezers to grasp the tick and pull it out. She says do not use kerosene, oil or fire to remove the tick. If the tick has been attached to your body for 24 to 36 hours or more, remove it and take it with you to your health care provider for advice.


Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

Do you get a little bit cranky after a sleepless night? In this "Health Fusion" column, Viv Williams explores how sleep deprivation can do a lot more damage than just messing with your mornings. It may also make people less willing to help each other.

Opinion by Viv Williams
Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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