Even in winter, Lyme ticks can be a threat

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- With a warm weekend ahead, many people will be outdoors, working in the yard, golfing, or taking walks.

Most probably don't realize they'll have company - ticks.

The ticks, which carry Lyme Disease, are active whenever it's above freezing.

They hide in the leaves in grassy, or brushy areas, making tick bites a real risk.

Lyme Disease is fairly easy to treat if it's caught early.

Doctors are spreading the word about a faster, easier FDA-approved test.

Called the Sofia-2 test, it uses one drop of blood from a finger stick and gives results in 15 minutes or less.

That answers two big shortfalls of current tests.

"People could have Lyme and the tests will say they don't have Lyme. The other big problem is it takes several days for that first round of testing to come back," says Dr. Sean McCloy, a family medicine practitioner with the Integrative Medical Center in Portland, Maine.

So, treatment can be delayed.

Dr. McCloy says Lyme disease is such a problem among his patients he tried out the Sofia 2 test shortly after it got its FDA approval.

"I've had patients coming in January with a bull's eye rash," he says.

"We know right away if they've likely been exposed to Lyme disease, and the physician can either start treatment right then and there and feel comfortable, comfortable and confident doing that," he adds.

Even in winter, doctors say daily ticks checks are a must.

"When you brush your teeth at night, check every square inch of your body. And you're looking for poppy seed. The little ticks are as small as a poppy seed," he says.

"They especially to go to the areas of the body where the sun doesn't shine," Dr. McCloy says with a grin.
Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.