Experts warn that as more people are hiking and spending time outside during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, they are seeing ticks and more often potentially bringing them home.

Ticks are common on the East Coast of the United States during the spring and summer, but they are found more frequently on hiking trails and in woods than landscaped lawns or public parks, according to the authors. When many parks closed because of the pandemic, numbers of wooded trails had an uptick in traffic.

Experts at Clemson University, Duke University, Hollins University, and the University of Rhode Island created a national survey to determine whether COVID-19 restrictions have affected the amount of time that people or their pets spend outdoors. The survey’s goal was to assess whether this change is associated with an increased risk of exposure to ticks.

The survey includes more than 2200 results, based on data the experts collected from during the period when states began relaxing orders to shelter at home. Questions included whether the respondent went outside for recreation or work, whether their recreational and work environments had changed during the pandemic, and what types of habitats or places they visited.

“I do expect to find that a certain segment of the population is going to be at an increased risk of exposure to ticks and tick-borne diseases, because of changes in their behavior,” said Michael Yabsley, PhD, MS, professor of wildlife diseases at Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources–University of Georgia in Athens.


REFERENCE

Mann A. Does more outdoor time increase risks of ticks? Global Lyme Alliance. May 5, 2020. Accessed June 25, 2020. https://globallymealliance.org/news/does-more-outdoor-time-increase-risk-of-ticks/