VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Vigo County Health Department says the area sees more ticks earlier than usual.

Public Health Educator Shelby Jackson says the reason is this past winter did not get cold enough for a long enough period of time.

Ticks are most prevalent in forests and in the grass. Their bites can cause skin rashes and itching.

Some ticks also carry Lyme Disease, which causes symptoms like fever, headache, and a characteristic skin rash. The health department says if Lyme Disease is left untreated, the infection can spread to the joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

Jackson has these tips for removing a tick if you find one on yourself or on a pet.

“Don’t use your fingers. Try to get them off as quickly as possible and remove them directly by pulling them up from the tick’s body. It will help keep the head from detaching,” says Jackson.

Using tweezers is the recommended method of removing a tick. After removal, cleanse the area with an antiseptic.

Jackson says if you do get bit by a tick, keep a close watch on the area and contact your doctor if a rash or itching persists.