In the trees and grasses of the South, there are a growing number of ticks that at best are an itchy nuisance and at worst can carry debilitating diseases.
Public health officials say that numbers of reported cases of diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are not yet alarming and have not yet shown a definitive trend upward from a national perspective. But they do worry that more ticks means more of a risk that those diseases will spike.
And scientists are finding species of ticks not seen before in the region. They say a higher rate of disease in animals can make the disease easier for other ticks to transmit to humans.