CONTACT: Seth Boffeli, (608) 266-1683
LYME DISEASE REMAINS A HEALTH THREAT IN WISCONSIN
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month
MADISON-The warm spring in Wisconsin has triggered more deer tick
activity than usual in many parts of the state, leading health officials
to urge precautions against tick bites when outdoors. Infected deer ticks
can carry Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
Noting that May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, Dr. Seth Foldy, State
Health Officer, said that Lyme disease illnesses in 2009 remained at high
levels. In Wisconsin a total 2,580 cases of Lyme disease were reported in
2009 compared to 2,048 cases in 2008. May through August is the peak
period for deer tick bites.
"The key to preventing Lyme disease is avoiding tick bites and to
find and remove ticks promptly," Foldy said. "Rapid detection
and removal of ticks also prevents disease because a tick must be attached
for at least 24 hours to cause disease. Because they are small, between
the size of a poppy and sesame seed, people should inspect themselves and
their children and pets in good light as soon as possible after being
Although a characteristic "bulls-eye" rash may occur 3 days
to 30 days after the bite of an infected tick, this does not always occur.
Lyme disease can result in arthritis, and serious heart and nervous system
problems. The disease is treated with antibiotics, and is more easily
treated when detected early.
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 make ticks easier to spot.
- Landscape homes and recreational areas to reduce the number of ticks
and create tick-safe zones by 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 houses throughout the
- Check frequently for ticks, and remove them promptly. Deer ticks are
small and may be difficult to find, so tick checks must be done on all
parts of the body carefully and thoroughly. It is important to 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. The goal is to pull
the tick's head away from the skin, but not to squeeze the body of the
tick. Folk remedies like petroleum jelly, nail polish remover or
burning matches are not a safe or effective ways to remove ticks.
Protect your pets from tick bites by checking your dog or cat 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 your veterinarian about topical tick repellant available
For more information visit:
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June 12, 2012