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Wisconsin Department of Health Services

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Disease Reporting

Tickborne infections

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The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and local health departments investigate several tickborne infections including Lyme disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and spotted fever rickettsiosis. Lyme disease is the highest reported tickborne illness in Wisconsin, but numbers for the other conditions are increasing.

Tickborne infections in Wisconsin:Image tick size camparisons to US dime

Tickborne diseases in Wisconsin chart

Prevention and control of tickborne diseases

This image identifies two of the ticks commonly found in Wisconsin, the blacklegged (or deer) tick and the dog (or wood) tick. In Wisconsin, the blacklegged tick can transmit Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan virus infection (a rare tickborne arbovirus illness)

General information

Ticks are arthropods related to mites and spiders. In Wisconsin, Ixodes scapularis, commonly called the blacklegged or the deer tick is the vector for anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, and Powassan virus infection. This tick is smaller than the wood (American dog) tick, which makes it harder to see.

Blacklegged ticks have a two-year lifecycle, which includes egg, larva, nymph, and adult stages. During this life cycle, the tick will have three blood meals and usually feed on small mammals, birds, and deer. Ticks feed by inserting their mouthparts into the skin of a host, and during this time, infections may be transmitted to the tick or the host. Once attached to a host, ticks will generally feed for 3-5 days. Usually only nymphs and adult female ticks are able to transmit most human tickborne diseases.

Ticks live in wooded, brushy areas that provide food and cover for small animals and deer. Ticks are unable to jump or fly and usually attach to a host at ground level. They crawl onto animals or people as they brush against vegetation and will attach to the host for a blood meal. Tick exposure is greatest in wooded areas, especially along trails and fringe areas.

Tick Management Handbook
Tick management handbook with information on protecting yourself from ticks, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. 

Tick Surveillance

    •  University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Entomology 
       Contact: Dr. Susan Paskewitz
    •  University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Department of Biology
       Contact: Dr. Lloyd Turinen

Training information for health professionals   

Educational material available from the Department of Health Services:

Form/Publication Number Form Name
DPH-9287 Lyme disease brochure- A Public Information Guide, English
DPH-9287s Lyme disease brochure- A Public Information Guide, Spanish
DPH-49466, CDC-CS 109745 Tick card: Protect yourself from tick-borne disease, English
DPH-49466S, CDC-CS 109745 Tick card: Protect yourself from tick-borne disease, Spanish

Electronically order forms: Follow the instructions at the top of the page and email the form F-80025A (can be used to order multiple forms/publications) to

Questions concerning ordering of forms can be addressed to Chris Caputo, 608-267-9054

Educational material available from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Additional Resources


Wisconsin Local Health Departments - Regional offices - Tribal agencies

Diep Hoang Johnson Vectorborne Disease Epidemiologist
Wisconsin Division of Public Health 
Bureau of Communicable Diseases
(Phone 608-267-0249)  (Fax 608-261-4976)

Last Revised: November 18, 2014