Tick season in full swing in Michiana

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BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. (WNDU) - The Berrien County Health Department sent a message to outdoorsy types Wednesday: If you spend plenty of time outdoors this summer, you should be doing daily tick checks.

Ticks live in brush areas, on leaves and even in dune grass. The parasites burrow in your skin, bite and feed off your blood. They can spread illness like Lyme disease.

Berrien County officials said that areas on the lakeshore can have higher populations of ticks. So, if you are heading to the beach, keep an eye out and check yourself for bites.

“Ticks like to find their way into moist, dark places on your body, so definitely checking your armpits, the backs of your knees, your groin area, the back of your neck. That’s definitely where ticks might find their way and attach themselves to you,” said Gillian Conrad, the communications manager for the Berrien County Health Department.

The blacklegged tick, or deer tick, is the one that can spread Lyme disease. If you catch a tick early, you may avoid any illness.

“If you come inside after being outdoors [and] you find a tick on you, even if it's attached to you and you remove it right away, chances are it hasn’t had a chance to transmit that Lyme disease,” Conrad said. “It does have to be on you, attached to you for a considerable amount of time, one to two days.”

She said covering your ankles and wrists can help keeps ticks off you, as can using an Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellent.

Symptoms of Lyme disease can mimic the flu, and the most obvious symptom is a “bull's-eye” rash around the bite area.