It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better, experts said. “Because of climate change, it’s getting worse,” said Dr. Meryl Littman, a professor emerita of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “And the habitats are spreading, mostly because migratory birds are bringing ticks to new areas where they are thriving.”
There’s no question deer tick nymphs are showing up earlier and earlier, Diuk-Wasser said. “We don’t know if that means we’re having a longer season overall or whether it’s just starting earlier,” she says. “In the last 25 years, the peak has moved. It used to be in June and now it’s in mid-May and you can see the nymphs even in April.”
Currently, no one knows how many people are getting bitten and infected in the winter, Diuk-Wasser said. She’s hoping those kinds of stats will come out of research from the Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases.
“Ticks can be found year round, depending on the weather,” Diuk-Wasser said. “If it’s a warm winter day and you’re walking in an area that ticks like, such as a brushy spot or an area with leaf litter, you’re more likely to run into them.”