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Lyme disease cases up after mild winter brings explosion in ticks

The unusually mild winter and early onset of warm temperatures has brought an explosion of ticks and increased threat of Lyme disease.

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Ticks in small bottles rest on Tick ID Carrier information cards June 29, 2004 in New York City. (Stephen Chernin/AFP/Getty Images)

The unusually mild winter and early onset of warm temperatures has brought an explosion of ticks and increased threat of Lyme disease, US media reported.

"It's going to be a really bad season, and it's been almost the perfect storm," ABC News quoted David Roth, co-chairman of the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance, s saying.

The newly formed group promotes awareness of the tick-borne illness Lyme disease.

"Part of it is the warmth and the fact that normally, they're just coming out at this time of year, but they've been out now for a while, and so have people," Roth reportedly said.

The Ozaukee Press, meanwhile, cited veterinarians as reporting an increasing number of dogs infected with Lyme disease.

More from GlobalPost: Lyme disease surge predicted in the US northeast this spring 

And according to the Richmond Register, there has also been an increase in the number of the blacklegged tick, also called the deer tick, in the eastern US this year.

Lyme disease — commonly transmitted when a deer tick feeds off a mammal — is caused by a bacteria that damages cartilage in the joints of dogs and humans. 

It was first diagnosed in the 1970s in patients around the town of Lyme, Connecticut. 

Although a round, red rash is usually the hallmark of the illness, symptoms — including fever and joint pain — often mimic those of other diseases, making the illness hard to diagnose.

Roth told ABC News he himself started to experience a variety of what he called "mysterious" symptoms which doctors couldn't diagnose, in 2010, although he didn't develop the telltale rash.

He had difficulty sleeping and breathing, and experienced night sweats, tremors and more, symptoms that still affected him two years later, he said. 

Boston.com published a handy quiz about ticks and Lyme disease.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120411/lyme-disease-ticks-us-winter-vets-dogs