It all started with a tweet from the Centers for Disease Control posing a question: “Ticks can be the size of a poppy seed. Can you spot all 5 ticks in this photo?”
The attached images from last week showed a poppyseed muffin, that paragon of American breakfast pastries, with no fewer than five blood-sucking arachnids hidden on top. It’s part of a CDC effort to warn Americans of tick-borne infections such as Lyme disease that the agency said are on the rise.
May begins the three-month span during which more people will get tick bites than any other in the United States, according to the CDC, and a 2016 study found ticks that carry Lyme disease present in nearly half of all U.S. counties. While some 30,000 cases of Lyme disease get reported annually, the CDC suggests the actual number of diagnosed cases may be ten times that — about 300,000.
If not treated, Lyme disease can produce severe arthritis or cause neurological or cardiac problems.