Tick season is in full swing and the danger surrounding tick-borne illnesses is growing.

That's according to a new report by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When they looked at the number of illnesses spread by mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas between 2004 and 2016, they found that cases had more than tripled.

The report found that 300,000 people each year in the U.S. catch Lyme disease from a tick bite. Thousands more develop other tick-borne illnesses.

“Spring and summer are peak weather for ticks,” says Brian Budenholzer, MD, Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine. “They have the nasty habit of carrying diseases and when they attach themselves they can spread those diseases to us.”

In Virginia there are four types of ticks:
  • The Lone Star tick
  • The American dog tick
  • The brown dog tick
  • The deer tick

The good news is that prevention is as easy as using bug spray and doing thorough checks after venturing outdoors.

When you do find them hitching a ride, don’t panic and don’t let old legends about hot matches or nail polish influence how you remove them. Simply lift the tick from your skin without popping or breaking it in pieces.

“The germs are in their saliva so you don’t want to get those contents squished or on your hands,” Dr.Budenholzer says. “You want to dispose of them in a way that is safe, so if you have some tape wrap it up in there so it can’t escape. “

The CDC also recommends flushing ticks down the toilet or putting them in a sealed bag and throwing it away. If you have rubbing alcohol available, submersing a tick will also do the trick, Budenholzer said.

“The most important thing is if you are out hiking or biking, have someone help inspect you,” Dr. Budenholzer says. “Prevention and diligence are key.”