Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vectorborne illness in Wisconsin. It is caused from the bite of an infected deer tick and can cause symptoms that affect the skin, nervous system, heart, and/or joints.
Often, but not always, Lyme disease starts as a roughly circular reddish rash (called erythema migrans) around or near the site of the tick bite. The rash expands in size over a period of days or weeks. During the rash stage, other symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, stiff neck, muscle and/or joint pain may be present. These signs and symptoms may last for several weeks. If left untreated, complications such as meningitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord), facial palsy (weakness or paralysis of muscles in the face), heart abnormalities, and arthritis may occur within a few weeks to months after the initial start of symptoms.
Ticks are most active during the warmer months of April through September; therefore it is no surprise that most Lyme disease cases are reported in the spring and summer. Decrease your risk for Lyme disease by following the precautions below:
- Avoid areas where deer ticks live, such as wooded, bushy areas with long grass and leaves.
- Use insect repellents containing 0.5% permethrin or 20-30% DEET; these products have been shown to be effective in repelling deer ticks. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions on the label.
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and high socks with pant cuffs tucked into the socks. Light colored clothing will make ticks easier to find.
- Walk in the center of mowed trails to avoid brushing up against grass and vegetation.
- Conduct thorough “tick checks” on yourself, your children and pets after spending time in tick-infected areas. Prompt removal of ticks, even after they have attached, can drastically reduce the chance of Lyme disease transmission.
If you suspect that you or someone you know may have Lyme disease, contact your health care provider immediately. For any other questions contact the FCP Community Health Department at 715-478-4355.
Department of Health Services: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/communicable/tickborne/Lyme/Index.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/