Veterinarian says the Northeast Ohio tick population is increasing each year

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Close to 300,000 cases of Lyme disease were reported across the country last year; 270 of those were from Ohio.

Dr. Brian Forsgren a veterinarian and founder of the Gateway Animal Clinic in Cleveland, says the tick population here in Northeast Ohio seems to be increasing every year.

"We are getting many more phone calls this year than in past years, and I've been thinking about and studying Lyme Disease for about two decades, and it seems to be getting more and more prevalent in the Cleveland communities," said Forsgren.

Dr. Forsgren says the reason for the increase in ticks may have something to do with climate change.

Wet, high grass and wooded areas are places where you are most likely to encounter ticks.

When you have been in one of those areas with your pet, you need to check for ticks.

"They certainly like skin folds in the ears and face. In a short-coated dog like this, you can take a comb, a brush and go over it. Also, pick them up and look underneath if he or she is little enough," added Forsgren.

Tick prevention is key.

There is a vaccine that is available. There are also a number of topical treatments on the market. It is recommended that you consult your veterinarian first.

There are also some natural remedies that some pet owners say they use.

"Some of those herbals are very good, but I haven't had a whole lot of luck with them. I would rather be sure - safe than sorry - particularly when you have a disease that can affect your family members," said Forsgren.

If you find a tick on your pet, Dr. Forsgren says take your dog to the vet immediately. Lyme disease can have a devastating effect on pets and humans.

Look for a bulls-eye shaped rash on humans, and in pets:

"The most common symptoms we see is a dog with a high fever that doesn't want to eat, doesn't want to walk, and he's got swollen joints," described Forsgren.

Prime tick season starts in May and lasts until August - but any time the temperature is above 40 degrees, ticks may also be active, according to Forsgren.

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