(WSYR) — As warmer spring temperatures arrive, you might want to jump right into hiking, walking, or biking. However, before you go anywhere, know that the blood-sucking insects are back.

This spring, especially after our warmer winter, more ticks than ever will be active and out looking for hosts—people, pets and wildlife—to attach to. During Tick Bite Prevention Week from March 24 through the 30—and beyond—be on guard to prevent getting bitten.

“Ticks can be active year-round when temperatures are above 45 degrees,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Vera Dunsmoor. “As the weather gets warmer, the chances of finding a tick on you, your family members or pets increase, so be sure to do ‘tick-checks’ when coming in from working or playing in the yard or from being out in the woods or brush.”

To add to the severity of ticks this season, the CDC released new information last week that a rare tick-borne disease called babesiosis is on the rise in eight states including New York, along with Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont. 

Babesiosis, which can cause illness ranging from asymptomatic to severe, can last for several weeks and will typically show up between one and four weeks after a bite. The most common symptoms include fever, chills, sweating, fatigue and myalgias. However, in rare cases, some could have hepatosplenomegaly, or an enlarged liver, and hemolytic anemia, a disorder that causes red blood cells to be destroyed faster than they can be created.

According to Oswego County Public Health, New York State has many species of ticks and the most likely ones you would encounter are the black-legged ticks also known as deer ticks, American dog ticks, or Lone-Star ticks. These ticks can carry diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis and babesiosis.

Ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level. They will cling to tall grass, brush and shrubs, usually no more than 18 to 24 inches off the ground. They also live in lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woods and around old stone walls. They don’t fly or jump, but they will attach to you as you move past them on vegetation.

Remember that not all ticks or tick bites will make you sick, however, removing a tick as soon as you find it may help reduce the likelihood of contracting any disease from a tick bite. Check out some more steps to protect you from the little buggers:

  • Wear light-colored clothing to be able to spot ticks easily
  • Wear enclosed shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt
  • Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants
  • Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors
  • Consider using an EPA-registered insect repellent, according to label instructions
  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails, walk in the center of the trail, and avoid dense woods or bushy areas
  • Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls
  • Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening
  • Treat dogs and cats for ticks as recommended by a veterinarian
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be on you
  • Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day (also check children and pets) and remove ticks promptly

What should you do if you get bitten

In the case you do get bit by a tick, use fine-tipped tweezers, grab the tick near the mouth parts as close to the skin as possible, and pull firmly in an upward motion away from the skin.

Dispose of the tick and wash the area with soap and water and immediately call your health care provider if you develop symptoms such as a circular red skin rash, high temperature, chills, headache, muscle aches or generally feeling ill.