This unseasonably warm weather has been nice, right? Sure, except that experts believe tick activity is starting sooner than usual, meaning that "this is going to be a horrific season, especially for Lyme," one expert says. Lyme disease is just one of the many diseases transmitted by ticks, those creepy little bugs that attach themselves to your skin and suck your blood, often without you noticing. Lyme disease, as well as other tick-borne infections including babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and anaplasmosis, have already been on the rise in recent years.
Even better news: Some ticks may actually give you more than one of those illnesses in just one bite, the Wall Street Journal reports. One reason for the upswing in tick-borne illnesses: an increase in the population of animals that carry ticks, and the movement of people into tick-harboring areas. Animals "are a traveling tick parade," says one expert, adding that dogs often bring ticks "into the home and onto furniture and carpets." There are ways to reduce your risk, like checking yourself and your pets for ticks and washing clothes in hot water after hiking—check out the full article for more.