CONTACT: Beth Kaplan, (608) 267-3810
LYME DISEASE REMAINS A HEALTH THREAT IN WISCONSIN
Cases increased 35% in 2010; May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month
MADISONLyme disease cases increased 35 percent in 2010, and state
health officials are urging people to take precautions against tick bites
as warm spring weather triggers more "blacklegged" or
"deer" tick activity. Infected blacklegged ticks can carry Lyme
disease and other tick-borne diseases including anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis,
Lyme disease cases totaled 3,495 in 2010 compared with 2,587 cases in
2009, according to Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer.
Early symptoms of Lyme disease may occur 3 days to 30 days after the
bite of an infected tick, which can include a rash called erythema migrans
(EM), fever and chills, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, and
swollen lymph nodes. In some people the EM rash may not occur. The disease
can be easily treated with antibiotics when detected early. However, if
left untreated, Lyme disease can result in debilitating arthritis, and
serious heart and nervous system complications.
"Everyone should take precautions against bites from blacklegged
ticks, especially between May and August when people are more likely to be
exposed," said Anderson. "It's important for people to check
themselves for ticks as soon as possible when they come indoors."
People can take steps to avoid tick bites and reduce the chance of
getting Lyme disease:
- Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter since
ticks prefer these areas. Stay to the center of a trail to avoid
contact with grass and brush.
- Use effective tick repellants and apply according to the label
instructions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
recommends that adults use repellants with 20-30% DEET on exposed skin
and clothing to prevent tick bites. Repellants that contain permethrin
can also be applied to clothing.
- Wear clothes that will help 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." Light-colored
clothing makes ticks easier to spot.
- Landscape homes and recreational areas to reduce the number of ticks
by creating tick-safe zones using woodchips or gravel along the border
between lawn and wooded area. Continue to remove leaf litter and clear
tall grass and brush around the house throughout the summer.
- Check frequently for ticks, and remove them promptly. Blacklegged
ticks are small and may be difficult to find, so tick checks must be
done on all parts of the body carefully and thoroughly. Pay special
attention to areas where ticks tend to hide, such as the head, scalp,
and body folds (armpit, behind the knee, groin).
- Remove attached ticks slowly and gently, using a pair of thin-bladed
tweezers applied as close to the skin as possible. Folk remedies like
petroleum jelly, nail polish remover, or burning matches are not safe
or effective ways to remove ticks.
- Protect pets from tick bites by checking dogs or cats for ticks
before allowing them inside. While a vaccine can prevent Lyme disease
in pets, it will not stop the animal from carrying infected ticks into
the home. Speak to a veterinarian about topical tick repellant
available for pets.
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June 18, 2012