Wisconsin prepares for another active tick season - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Wisconsin prepares for another active tick season

MADISON (WKOW) -- State officials are sending out their annual warning -- as we get more active outside, so do ticks.

State Health Officer Dr. Henry Anderson says cases of Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases have increased in Wisconsin over the past decade. Between 1997 and 1999, there were about 536 reported cases of Lyme disease each year. That jumped to about 3,250 cases a year between 2008 and 2011.

"People should take precautions to prevent tick bites when they spend time outdoors. The risk of acquiring a tickborne illness is highest from spring through summer when the ticks are most active. The key to prevent tickborne diseases is to avoid tick bites and to find and remove ticks promptly," Anderson noted.

State officials passed along a few steps that can help prevent tick bites and reduce the chance of getting tickborne diseases:

  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter because ticks prefer these areas. Stay to the center of a trail to avoid contact with grass and brush.
     
  • Use effective tick repellents and apply according to the label instructions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using repellents with 20% DEET on exposed skin and clothing to prevent tick bites. Adults should apply repellents to children, taking special care to avoid spraying in the hands, eyes, and mouth. Repellents 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 pants into the top of socks or boots, to create a "tick barrier." Light-colored clothing makes ticks easier to spot.
     
  • Check your body frequently for ticks, and remove them promptly. Blacklegged ticks are small and may be difficult to find, so careful and thorough tick checks must be done on all parts of the body. 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). Take a shower or a bath as soon as possible to remove any ticks that may still be crawling on you.
     
  • Remove attached ticks slowly and gently, using a pair of thin-bladed tweezers applied as close to the skin as possible. Folk remedies like petroleum jelly, nail polish remover, or burning matches are not 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 may 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 repellants available for pets.
     
  • 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 houses throughout the summer.
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