We monitor tickborne illnesses in Dane County and educate on how to prevent tick bites.
Why are We Concerned About Ticks?
In Dane County, there has been an increase of Lyme disease cases over the past three years, with an average of 136 cases per year. Additionally there are 10-15 cases of another tickborne disease, anaplasmosis each year.
- The risk of Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases is increasing as Wisconsin is seeing more months of the year when ticks are active. Longer tick seasons increase the chance of someone coming into contact with a tick.
- There are a number of diseases in Wisconsin that are spread by bites from infected ticks
How Ticks Spread Disease
- Most tickborne diseases in Wisconsin are spread by the black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick. Deer ticks are very small—nymphs are the size of a poppy seed and adults are the size of a sesame seed.
- Ticks feed by inserting their mouthparts into the skin of a host, and during that time, infections may be transmitted. 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 disease.
- Ticks live in wooded and brushy areas. They are unable to jump or fly and usually climb onto a host from the ground, bushes, or low hanging branches.
- Early symptoms of Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases like anaplasmosis include fever, rash, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. They can occur anywhere from three to 30 days after a bite.
- Lyme disease often, but not always, begins with a circular reddish rash around or near the site of the tick bite. It expands in size over a period of days or weeks, and may have a bull’s eye appearance.
- If you have any of these symptoms and have been spending time outdoors, talk to your healthcare provider. When treated with antibiotics in the early stages of illness, recovery is usually rapid and complete.
- If Lyme disease is untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Anaplasmosis, even in healthy people, can be serious and sometimes fatal if the correct treatment is not chosen.
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass, and walk in the center of trails when hiking.
- Use repellents containing 20-30% DEET on both exposed skin and clothing, carefully following product instructions.
- Use products that contain permethrin on clothing, carefully following product instructions.
- For those looking for alternative repellents and pesticides, check out CDC’s website on natural tick repellents and pesticides.
- Tuck pant legs into socks, and shirts into pants.
- Perform daily full-body tick checks, even if you were only in your back yard.
- Remove ticks promptly with a tweezer by holding the tweezers close to the ticks head and pulling upward with steady pressure.
- Shower or bathe as soon as possible after coming indoors.
- Tumble clothing you’ve worn on high heat in a dryer, to kill any ticks on clothing.
- Prevent ticks on pets by not allowing them in tick-infested areas, and by using veterinarian-prescribed tick collars or spot treatment. Also check your pet daily for ticks.
- Ticks, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Tick Identification and Testing, University of Rhode Island
- Tickborne Infections, Wisconsin Department of Health Services
- Tick Information and Tick Identification Service, UW Madison Entomology Department
- Preventing Ticks on Your Pets, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention