Ticks in Indiana more prevalent than previously thought, according to research

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.- Earlier this spring, state officials said they were expecting to see higher numbers of ticks this year, but new research from Indiana University shows the problem is actually much worse than previously thought.

“Some of these diseases are spreading,” said IU researcher and Associate Director of the Environmental Resilience Institute David Polly.

According to new research by Indiana University’s Project Vector Shield, higher numbers of deer ticks are being found across southern and central Indiana.

That could lead to more people getting sick from tick-borne infections like Lyme disease.

“It’s partly the disease spreading through tick populations that are already there, and partly the spread of tick populations themselves,” said Polly.

Polly said several factors are behind the change in the tick population; notably, shifts in climate patterns and habitat disturbance, which can also encourage the spread of other diseases, even those not connected with ticks.

“Tick-borne disease is the most obvious of them,” said Polly, “but there is a lot of avian flu diseases… there’s always the potential of having malaria again [in Indiana].”

Experts say take precautions to fend off ticks from your family and your pets. Those include tucking long pants into your socks, wearing light-colored clothing, and using insect repellent with DEET. You can also use special shampoo for dogs and cats.

Project Vector Shield will share the data it collects with state health officials and the CDC to track the tick population and monitor the potential for any disease outbreaks.