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Lyme disease cases spike in West Virginia

State health officials say in 2017 they had more cases of Lyme disease. (WCHS/WVAH)

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture is warning of a possible new tick threat to the state, but that isn't the only tick we should be worried about.

While many people are starting to hit the trails and camp, you might bring home some little unwanted pests: ticks.

"So far in comparison at last year at this time, it's about the same amount for the black legged tick or deer tick," state Health Department Entomologist Eric Dotseth said.

Dotseth studies ticks and the illnesses they can cause. He said there are three types of ticks that are seen across the state: the deer tick which carries Lyme disease, the American dog tick and the lonestar tick. The lonestar tick is commonly found in Cabell and Putnam counties.

Dotseth said people should be on the lookout for deer ticks because the department is seeing an increase of them. He said during this time of year you will find the babies - called nymphs, which are as small as poppy seeds.

"We had 648 plus cases last year in 2017, which was an increase of 368 the year before. We are seeing increase of human cases of Lyme disease."

Dotseth said the best thing for people to do is to wear long sleeves and pants. Even though you might get hot, it will keep the ticks off you, he said.

"I wear light clothing also so it is easier for me to see and I take a shower afterwards and that works very well," Dotseth said.

Dotseth said pets can also get Lyme disease but there is a Lyme disease vaccine for dogs.

Lyme disease can be treated if caught early, symptoms include fever, fatigue and sometimes a bullseye shaped rash.

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