Friday, June 24, 2011 - 6:22am
Reports of Increased Tick Activity in Madison Area
According to recent research conducted by the University of Wisconsin, the population and geographic range of the deer tick has been growing throughout the state, including in Dane County. These ticks have been showing up in areas that were relatively tick free just ten years ago. It has been estimated that 20 to 40 percent of these ticks are likely to carry the Lyme disease bacteria. Smaller percentages of the tick population may carry other less well known tick-borne illnesses such as Anaplasmosis and Babesiosis, which produces symptoms similar to Lyme disease with the exception of the bulls eye shaped rash; a symptom commonly reported by individuals diagnosed with Lyme disease.
The good news is that all of these tick-borne diseases are both preventable and treatable. Basic prevention starts with minimizing your exposure to tick bites by wearing long pants and long sleeves when picnicking or walking in tall grasses or forests. Light colored clothing makes ticks easier to spot. It is also important to:
• Avoid wooded and bushy areas with leaf litter if possible; stay in the center of a trail to reduce contact with grass and brush
• Always use an effective insect repellant
• Always check yourself, or have a family member or friend check you for ticks after being outdoors, paying special attention to the head, scalp, armpit, groin, and area behind the knee; pets should also be checked after being outdoors to prevent tick-borne disease and carrying infected ticks into the home.
• Frequent checks of family members and pets for ticks.
• If a tick is found, use thin bladed tweezers to slowly remove it. Folk remedies like petroleum jelly, nail polish remover, and/or burning matches DO NOT WORK AND ARE NOT SAFE.
It is very important to consult a physician as soon as possible if:
• you find a tick that has been attached for 24 hours or more (or don't know how long the tick has been attached)
• tick removal is incomplete
• you experience symptoms of a potential tick-borne disease including fever, headache, chills, and fatigue, pain in muscles and joints, nausea, and/or rash.
More detailed information about ticks and tick-borne diseases is available from:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/
Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/communicable/TickBorne/index.htm
Public Health Madison & Dane County
- Jeff Golden, (608) 243-0302