Now’s the time to be on the lookout for ticks

ATLANTA — Many people are headed outdoors to work in their yards, and there’s something you might want to look out for so that you don’t get sick while working.

Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Eboni Deon learned that ticks are starting to emerge in Georgia. As it warms up, many bugs and pests are coming out of a dormant phase, including ticks, which could cause great harm if you’re bitten by one.

Laura Mitchell, of Cherokee County, said a tick bit her while she was out on a hike and contracted Lyme disease.

"I started getting what felt like the worst blue I've ever had, body aches," Mitchell said.

She suffered for three years before she was finally cured.

Mitchell said that she didn’t get the bulls-eye rash which is typical for Lyme disease.

“I didn’t get the bulls-eye rash. Unfortunately, it’s much easier to diagnose,” Mitchell said. “When people think of Lyme, you have that. It’s not something that people think of immediately, especially here in Georgia.”

She said it took several tests and a few years to recover.

Brett Craig, a training manager for Arrow Exterminators, said now's the time to be extra cautious when you're out in the yard. Craig said ticks are looking for blood meals that include humans and our pets.

"Try to keep your long sleeves, gloves and have everything tucked in as tightly as possible," Craig said.

He also said when getting out in the yard, dress in light-colored clothing to detect ticks easily, and be sure to look around, but also up.

“Be on the lookout for any high-hanging trees and limbs that you’re rubbing up against because they’ll fall down from there on top of you,” Craig said.

He recommends using Deet and to do a self-check of your hair and body after returning from a walk. Craig said you should check along your pet's back, shoulder and face for ticks as well.

For Mitchell, it's a warning she wished she had before all this happened.

"Now when I hike, I go in neighborhoods where there are sidewalks, and I pretty much stay out of wooded areas," Mitchell said.

Craig said your yard can also be a haven for ticks, especially in heavily wooded areas. He said one strategy is to try to make sure you have a lot of open space in your yard.

“Try to keep a lot of sunlight there because if it starts to get shaded, then you’re creating an environment that is conducive to them,” Craig said

Get rid of any stacks of wood up against your home as well because rodents that are carrying ticks can get in there.