A blacklegged tick, also known as a deer tick. Credit: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Disease-carrying deer ticks are ramping up their fall activity around the state, which peaks this time of year.

Over the next several weeks adult deer ticks will spend their time searching for a mate, finding a final host for the season and laying eggs.

“So far, deer tick activity is normal for this time of year,” said Griffin Dill, tick lab coordinator at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, on Wednesday. “They will be active until temperatures remain consistently below freezing, which in some years isn’t until well into December.”

In the meantime, the Maine Center for Disease Control is reminding residents and visitors to continue taking steps to prevent tick bites.

Deer ticks carry and transmit Lyme disease, a serious illness that can cause rashes, joint pain, nerve pain and inflammation of the spinal cord.

The most common symptom of Lyme disease is the “bulls-eye” rash that forms around the bite area. Other symptoms include body aches, chills, fever, headache and swollen lymph nodes, according to Maine CDC.

Anyone experiencing any of these after-tick exposure symptoms should talk to a health care provider.

The Maine CDC said the following have been reported as of Oct. 25: 2,416 cases of Lyme disease; 563 cases of anaplasmosis; 156 cases of babesiosis; nine cases of hard tick relapsing fever; and four cases of Powassan encephalitis.

The ticks are commonly found in wooded, leafy and shrubby areas. To help limit exposure the Maine CDC recommends avoiding areas of known tick habitat, using an approved tick repellent, conducting a thorough all-body tick check when coming in from the outdoors and removing clothing when you get home from any areas of tick activity. Put those clothes in a dryer before washing at high heat for 10- to 15-minutes to kill any hidden ticks.

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.