Lyme disease is the fastest growing infectious disease in North America. The United States reports over 30,000 cases every year and not all cases are reported. In Wisconsin, Lyme disease is the highest reported tick-borne disease, with more than 38,000 cases reported between 1980 and 2015. Disease carrying ticks are becoming more common.
The deer tick or blacklegged tick transmits Lyme disease to humans. They are about the size of a poppy seed in early stages and about the size of a sesame seed as an adult.
Ticks are capable of spreading several different diseases to humans including, Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Ehrichiosis, Babesiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Ticks are transported by birds, deer, mice and other rodents that can harbor Lyme and other diseases in their blood.
Lyme disease can cause long-term health issues if not identified and treated early. It can affect the brain, eyesight, hearing, heart, nervous systems, muscles, joints, digestive tract and lymph nodes. Because Lyme disease can affect many parts of the body; it can be hard to diagnose.
Ticks can be found in your lawn, on your pets, in tall grass or bushes, on logs or woodpiles. Walk in the center of trails. Avoid walking through bushes or long grass. Other tips include:
- Wear a bug spray containing DEET.
- Check for ticks daily.
- Shower soon after being outside.
- Call your doctor if you get a fever or odd rash.
- Talk to your veterinarian about protecting your pets from ticks.
Remove ticks with fine tipped tweezers. Get as close to the skin as possible. Pull upward with steady even pressure. After removing the tick clean the area and your hands with soap and water or rubbing alcohol.
Go to www.cdc.gov/ticks/ or contact Barron County Public Health at 715-537-5691, extension 6442 for more information.