Ticks, and the bacteria they carry, are a year-round issue, but in New Jersey, it's the next few months in which their presence is more known and dangerous.

During the spring and summer, New Jerseyans are more likely to venture into tick habitats - wooded areas and tall grass - and the warmest of the months also bring the emergence of the hard-to-see tick nymphs.

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Dr. Tina Tan, the state epidemiologist, noted lyme disease is the most commonly-reported illness from a tick bite, and health officials in the state see "several thousand" cases each year.

Tan suggested early treatment is the key to preventing a worse illness further along, but a number of the initial symptoms - fatigue, headache, fever, and muscle aches - can be confused as other sicknesses. A rash shaped like a bull's-eye would be the most certain sign of Lyme disease contraction.

Without early treatment, Tan said, bite victims can end up dealing with complications of the heart and nervous system, as well as arthritis.

Other common tick-borne diseases in New Jersey include Babesiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Of course, the best prevention is avoiding a bite altogether. Tips from the state Department of Health include:

  • Stay out of wooded areas.
  • Make your yard less attractive to ticks by mowing lawns and trimming trees.
  • Wear solid, light-colored clothing. This makes it easier to spot a tick on your clothes.
  • Use insect repellent.
  • Check yourself for ticks frequently when you are in tick-infested areas, and after.