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Ticks that can cause Lyme disease are already active in Michigan

Relative sizes of ticks at different life stages.
Relative sizes of ticks at different life stages.

Ticks that carry Lyme disease have become active in Michigan with the recent unseasonably warm temperatures. The range for ticks has been expanding in Michigan for years, bringing with it a spike in Lyme disease cases. 

Jean Tsao, an associate professor at Michigan State University's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, said that a student brought in several ticks that were found on a dog in Lansing.

"The ticks that are out now are the black-legged adults. Those usually overwinter. But they can become active if you have several days that are warmer," says Tsao.

Black-legged ticks had not been known to be established in Michigan's lower peninsula until the 2000's, according to Tsao.

"Having said that, they seem to be now in some parts of the eastern part of Michigan, where the ticks have been discovered at low levels," she says.

Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria species Borrelia burgdorferi. If not treated promptly, it can cause serious long term illness. 

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