Nov. 15 (UPI) -- In 2017, U.S. state and local health departments reported more tick-borne diseases than at any time in history.
According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of reported cases of Lyme and other tick borne diseases shot up from about 49,000 cases in 2016 to nearly 60,000 cases the following year.
This increase reflects an accelerated trend of reports of tick borne diseases between 2004 and 2016, where the number of cases doubled.
While experts aren't sure what caused the surge, factors like humidity, rainfall, temperature and the number of mice, deer and other hosts can affect the tick population. Tick numbers can also vary based on location.
Some scientists have pointed to climate change as a culprit for the rise.
To avoid tick bites, the CDC recommends checking your body for ticks after walking through areas known to host the insect, treating your clothes with permethrin, spraying your body with tick repellent like DEET and picaridin, and showering after returning from outside.
Experts also recommend checking pets for ticks and warn against walking in wooded areas.
Additionally, the number of reported diseases reported from ticks, mosquitoes and fleas has tripled in the last 13 years.
In the United States, Lyme disease is the most common tick borne illness. Its early symptoms include a rash between three and 30 days after a bite, along with fever, chills, body aches and fatigue, according to the Mayo Clinic. Later symptoms can develop into joint paint and inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain.
Close to 95 percent of Lyme disease cases are reported in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Ticks can also spread other dangerous diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, Powassan virus, and babesiosis. Over 60 percent of these illnesses are found in Arkansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee.