Check yourself: Warmer weather leads to return of deer ticks
For the Tomahawk Leader
LINCOLN COUNTY – With warmer weather on the horizon, one pest is sure to be back: the deer tick, also known as the black legged tick.
The Lincoln County Health Department (LCHD) is urging everyone to take steps to protect against tick bites when spending time outside.
“Lyme disease is the state of Wisconsin’s most commonly reported tick-borne disease,” LCHD stated. “However, two other diseases – human anaplasmosis (formerly called ehrichiosis) and babesiosis – can also result from the bite of ticks. While these diseases are less common than Lyme’s disease, they can results in serious sickness.”
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), the average number of reported cases of Lyme disease has more than doubled over the past 10 years. There were 23 cases reported in Lincoln County in 2019 and 38 cases reported in 2018. Estimates from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that the total number of cases could be approximately ten times higher than what is reported.
“People should take steps to prevent tick bites when they spend time outdoors,” said Meghan Williams, LCHD Environmental Health Specialist. “The key to prevent tick-borne diseases is to avoid tick bites and to find and remove ticks promptly.”
Williams also stressed the importance of recognizing and treating tick-borne diseases early to lower any problems related to the disease(s).
“People of all ages can become ill with tick-borne diseases,” she stated. “Contact your health care provider immediately if you think that you may have a tick-borne illness.”
The prime season for tick-borne disease begins when weather becomes warmer and the deer ticks begin to be more active.
“This puts Lincoln County residents at risk for tick-borne diseases as they begin to enjoy outdoor activities in woody or brushy areas,” LCHD said.
Follow the steps below to help protect against deer ticks and the diseases they carry:
- Know when you are in tick habitat—brushy, wooded areas, and long grasses.
- Use a good tick repellent, such as a product containing permethrin or DEET, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Wear clothes that will help to shield you from ticks. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are best. Tuck your pants into the top of your socks or boots to create a “tick barrier.”
- Check frequently for ticks and remove them promptly. This is an important step in preventing disease.
- Remove the tick slowly and gently using a pair of tweezers. Folk remedies like Vaseline, nail polish remover, or matches are not safe or effective methods of tick removal.
Lyme disease symptoms include a bulls-eye rash, fever, headache, chills, muscle pain and joint pain. The bulls-eye rash, one of the earliest symptoms, typically appears between three and 30 days after the tick bite. Not everyone with Lyme disease develops the rash. Some people can develop two or more of these diseases at the same time.
“If you develop signs or symptoms of a tick-related illness after spending time in areas where deer ticks are found, you should seek medical attention right away,” LCHD stated. “Lyme disease, human anaplasmosis, and babesiosis can be treated with medication. Early diagnosis and treatment are important in preventing severe illness.”
For more information about LCHD’s programs and services, visit www.lincolncountyhealthdepartment.com or find the department on Facebook.