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Tick population high after warm winter

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. - More people could get Lyme disease locally this summer than ever before. According to the Berrien County Health Department numbers are on track to top 2009 for number of confirmed Lyme disease cases, the most in a decade.


“More people are calling us for tick control than mosquito control,” said Ken Wuerfel, owner of Mosquito Squad of Southwest Michigan.


Wuerfel said Wednesday the amount of calls has been overwhelming. “We’ve doubled our business from last year already because of the tick issue.” He said clients are seeing ticks on their children and pets.


“There are more ticks than ever because the host has lived through the winter,” said Wurfel.


According to the Berrien County Health Department a mild winter can lead to an increased number of ticks. Ticks breed in rodent nests during the winter. The mild winter left fewer rodent casualties and a larger tick population.


“If you’re more likely to get bit, you’re more likely to get a disease that a tick might be carrying,” said Nicki Britten with the health department.


Britten explained that the health department does not track the number of ticks but does track diseases. In April the first case of Lyme disease was reported in Berrien County, usually cases do not get confirmed until June.


So far three cases of Lyme disease have been reported this summer. In 2009 nine total cases were reported. “That was the highest rate of cases per population in the state of Michigan that year,” said Britten.


“It’s good for us but bad for our neighbors,” said Wuerfel. He’s thankful for the extra business but doesn’t want to see more people with the disease.


Black Legged Ticks or ‘deer ticks’ are carriers of Lyme disease.


The health department says checking your body every night for ticks is a way to avoid Lyme disease.

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