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Precautions needed as tick season off to an early start

Warm stretches earlier this winter resulted in ticks being active in March and that activity is only increasing.

PORTLAND, Maine — As people head outside there's one thing you should be on the lookout for -- ticks! 

Experts say people who are spending more time outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, are more likely to have a tick encounter and need to take precautions.

A medical entrepreneur has invented a solution he says will help keep ticks in check.

So far this year, the Maine Cooperative Extension Tick Lab in Orono has received more than 1,000 tick samples.

80 percent are deer ticks, a third tested positive for Lyme disease. 

Griffin Dill, an integrated pest management expert who runs the lab says the number is much higher compared to this time last year, but he is concerned people spending time outdoors are not taking the risk of exposure seriously.

"What we are finding that very few people that have submitted ticks are using any kind of preventative clothing," said Dill.

"I came up with this idea of using a gator because I don't need it on my feet, I just wanted it on my lower legs," said Daniel Katz.

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Katz, a physical therapist and acupuncturist and the owner of Wildwood Medicine in Portland, says after years of treating patients with tick-borne disease inspired him to to invent Tick Wraps. The ribbed lower leg coverings are professionally treated with permethrin, a synthetic Chrysanthemum-based oil that repels ticks. 

They come in adult and children's sizes and can be used as arm coverings while gardening.  

Katz says tick wraps are now an important part of his family's routine when they head outdoors.

"They put on their shoes and they put on their tick wraps."

Katz launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the launch of the wraps. 

The goal is to raise $18,000 by June 3. Tick wraps are expected to be available online by the end of June when the tick season is in full swing. 

For more information on Tick Wraps and the Kickstarter campaign, click here.

Tick prevention and signs and symptoms of tick-borne illness from the Maine CDC, go here. 

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