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Ticks may be worse after the mild winter. Here's what you need to know about tick-borne disease.

Talking Points preview: The danger of ticks
Talking Points preview: The danger of ticks 03:40

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesotans have been warned that this is going to be a bad summer for ticks, but new details are shedding light on the potentially fatal diseases they might carry.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Minnesota is the fifth worst state for tick-borne illnesses after Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and neighboring Wisconsin.

What you need to know about tick-borne disease (part 1) 06:39

The region is expected to have more ticks in 2024 due to Minnesota's comparatively gentle winter. Scientists are learning more about how ticks can spread diseases in humans, and doctors say early detection and treatment is critical.

In the first phase, signs of tick disease can appear in the first three to 30 days. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, joint stiffness and swollen lymph nodes.

"If it's not treated in that (early) stage, then it can go on to affect other organs. And so that's why we, as doctors, we try to talk about ticks, preventing tick bites and then treating early," M Health Fairview's Dr. Maggie Kappelman said.

What you need to know about tick-borne disease (part 2) 08:20

The second phase happens three to 10 weeks after infection, with common symptoms being rash, neck stiffness, muscle weakness on one side of the face, irregular heartbeats, back and leg pain, and eye pain, including vision loss.

The third phase happens between two to 12 months after the initial bite. In that phase, patients may deal with arthritis and skin discoloration of the hands, feet, elbows and knees.

Symptoms in pets are also very similar, but they also can be delayed and, like humans, often misdiagnosed. Veterinarians say there's a heightened threat of a potentially deadly disease in cats called tularemia.

What you need to know about tick-borne disease (part 3) 07:00

"Cats can get really quite sick with that. They get high fevers, they're extremely lethargic, and if not recognized and attended to pretty quickly, it can be a fatal disease in cats. So if your cat goes outside, ideally protect them by using flea and tick prevention," Dr. Jennifer Granick, with the University of Minnesota Veterinary School, said.

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