Lyme expert urges tick vigilance even in cooler weather

Mark Klempner, MD, explains why tick checks are still necessary and how to reduce the chances of becoming infected

By Bryan Goodchild and Ellie Castano

UMass Medical School Communications

September 12, 2013

Mark Klempner, MD, a national expert on Lyme disease, points out a little known fact about ticks and Lyme disease: While juvenile ticks are most active in the summer months, adults are very active in the fall and continue to look for hosts until temperatures fall below freezing.

“Any time there are temperatures above freezing, there is some risk,” said Dr. Klempner, who is executive vice chancellor for MassBiologics, professor of medicine and an infectious disease expert who has done extensive research on Lyme disease.

Klempner urges people to continue to do tick checks when they have been in settings where they might have been exposed. He also recommends that people clear brush and debris from their properties because that’s where ticks like to live.

“You can do things to prevent Lyme disease both personally and in your environment that will reduce your risk just by knowledge of the behavior of ticks. Ticks don’t like open fields. They really are along the edges of properties,” said Klempner. “So to the extent that you can clean up the brush in your neighborhood or in the area, you will reduce the chance of being exposed.”

In this Expert’s Corner video, Klempner also talks about why Lyme can be hard to diagnose and about the recent CDC report citing higher incidences of Lyme than was previously known.