Larger tick population expected to cause more lyme disease

About 300,000 cases of tick-borne Lyme disease are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, and with an expanding tick population, experts think this year could be worse than usual.

Thanks to a milder winter and more host animals, there could be more cases of Lyme and deadly tick-borne infections.

Powassan virus, for example, causes swelling in the brain that can lead to permanent neurological damage. It's fatal in about 10 percent of cases.

SEE MORE: Mexico Is The First Country In The Americas To Eliminate This Disease

RELATED: How to avoid tick bites

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How to avoid tick bites
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How to avoid tick bites

1. Stay in the middle of the path

When hiking, make sure to stay in the middle of the path. Weeds, grass and trees make it easier for ticks to crawl onto you. Don't venture out to the grass or bushes, where ticks are formidable to be hiding. 

2. Wear long pants and closed toed shoes

Protect your skin. Adding an extra layer makes it more difficult to latch on to you. It's smart to wear pants, long sleeves and hats, especially in the summer.

3. Invest in deer-resistant plants. 

Since ticks feed on and are transported by deer, try looking into deer-resistant plants. French marigolds, rosemary, mint and crape myrtle are just some of the greens deer tend to "overlook". 

See a complete list of the herbs and flowers here

4. Check your dog! 

Dogs can literally bring ticks right to your front door. Prevent ticks by keeping their coats short in the summer. Use your hands to check the fur, stopping if you feel a pea-sized bump. Favorite spots ticks like to hide include the ears, toes and under the tail. 

Dog ticks don't "harbor diseases that sicken people", but you should still be wary. 

5. Yes, repellant can help. 

According to TickenEncounter, spray with DEET does not provide "sufficient" protection. Get spray for your clothes like Permethrin, which instantly kills ticks. 

6. Dry your clothes 

The CDC recommends tumble drying clothes immediately for ten minutes after you've been outside. Ticks can easily "dry out" with high heat, but you should make sure the clothes are completely dry. 

Warning: Ticks can survive the wash. 

7. Tuck your pants into your socks.

This covers the small, easily accessible space in between your pants and ankles. Especially if you are sitting, it makes it easier for ticks to latch on. 

8. Stay in the sun.

Since ticks survive in shady, humid environments, researchers agree that staying in the sun lowers the risk for ticks. According to LiveScience, ticks "can't survive" in places with lower than 80% humidity. 

9. Invest in Permethrin socks

The chemical is successful in protecting against ticks, mosquitoes and other types of bites. Lymedisease.org estimates that permethrin-treated footwear offered 74 times the protection from bites.

10. Mow your lawn

Cut your grass, clean your yard, get rid of any extra firewood or wood chips. 

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Some ticks even carry another disease that can give you a meat allergy. Researchers warn it's getting more common, but they're still learning about how and why the disease spreads. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention isn't tracking it closely yet.

Luckily, those diseases are still relatively rare, especially compared with Lyme. For example, in the decade since 2006, the CDC recorded fewer than seven cases of Powassan virus on average every year.

SEE MORE: A Mosquito-Spit Vaccine Could Protect You From Multiple Diseases

The CDC recommends people avoid tick-borne diseases by using insect repellent, staying out of brush and tall grass, and taking showers after visits to tick country. If you're bitten, tell your doctor about any fever or rash.

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