Monday, May 23, 2016 - 9:18am
And they could be in your backyard
We have entered peak tick season, and with warmer weather and a holiday weekend approaching, we’ll be spending more time outdoors. According to UW-Madison professor of entomology Susan Paskewitz, “We found the number of deer ticks increased significantly last year in Madison and we are finding them in wooded areas in urban parks across the state.”
We may be used to thinking that protecting ourselves from and checking for tick bites is only necessary when we’ve been in the woods or on hikes. However, it is now advised that we should increase these efforts. Paskewitz advises, “Because these ticks carry Lyme disease and other pathogens, people should take care to do tick checks whenever they have been out in woods, even in their own backyards. They should also use repellents and wear clothing that will reduce exposure to these pests.”
A bite from an infected deer tick can lead to Lyme disease, which garners the most attention. However, just as Lyme disease is on the rise in Wisconsin, so are other diseases infected deer ticks spread, such as anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and spotted fever rickettsial diseases.
According to the CDC, untreated Lyme disease can produce a wide range of symptoms, depending on the stage of infection. These include fever, rash, facial paralysis, and arthritis. Symptoms of the other diseases spread by deer ticks are very similar and all may occur anywhere from 3 to 30 days after a bite. When treated with the appropriate antibiotics in the early stage of symptoms, one usually recovers rapidly and completely.
Preventing tick bites is the best defense against these diseases. Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass, and walk in the center of trails if hiking. Use repellents containing 20 to 30% DEET on both exposed skin and clothing, carefully following product instructions. You can also use products that contain permethrin on clothing. As soon as possible after coming indoors, bathe or shower, conducting a full-body tick check using a mirror. It’s important to note that ticks can be as small as a poppy seed. Adult ticks are about the size of a sesame seed. Tumble clothing you’ve worn outdoors on high heat in a dryer as well, to kill any ticks you’ve missed.
Unfortunately, dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and the diseases they cause, and ticks might be hard to notice on them. As with humans, prevention is the best defense. Use a tick preventive product on your dog and check it daily for ticks.
For more information about tick-borne infections
For more information about ticks and preventing tick bites
For more information about keeping your pets tick free
- Jeff Golden, (608) 243-0302, firstname.lastname@example.org