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Wisconsin Parent

Tick (and Lyme Disease) Season in Wisconsin

Apr 28, 2014 12:05PM ● By Brooke McGee
As the spring begins to thaw the earth, cabin fever final begins to die down. We get to go outside! “Yea!” shout the children, ready to play in the mud while still in their school clothes. And parents are thinking "Yes! The kids can play outside!" But along with the tulips and daffodils come a dangerous reality. Ticks. And in Wisconsin, the word tick is synonymous with Lyme disease.Wisconsin is home to a large variety of ticks, one of which is the deer tick, the carrier for Lyme disease. According to the Center for Disease Control, the CDC, 95 percent of Lyme cases come from the upper Midwest area. And as for Wisconsin? We are right in the middle of a hot spot. That, my friend, is not good. Even worse, ticks aren’t just present in the woods or in the country here, they have been found everywhere from school playgrounds to your backyard in town.

Lyme disease is bad news. According to Dr. Cooper of the Portage Veterinary Clinic, pets are at risk too. “Ticks and fleas are coming out now,” I was told at a routine vet visit. “At our clinic, we have Lyme tests that can be completed in 15 minutes. I’ve seen pets recover very quickly after they had been suffering for so long. We have immunizations for Lyme for pets here too.”

Prevention is the first key. Simple things such as tucking socks over the pant legs can prevent ticks from crawling up your leg. Though you might feel a normal tick, deer ticks are the size of the head of a pin. While hiking or running around at the park, the odds of feeling a deer tick are very slim. Sprays are available on the market to deter ticks from crawling on you and come in many varieties—chemical as well as all-natural. The choice is a personal one and may have to be tailored to the area you are in. Checking clothing and your body frequently and thoroughly is key. Due to the small size, this should be done in areas such as the hair very cautiously.

ticksizewiparentSymptoms of Lyme disease typically include feeling as though you have the flu, but without vomiting. A rash, called a bull’s-eye rash, also occurs in SOME people. Lyme disease, if untreated, can spread to the heart, joints, and nervous system. Symptoms may become debilitating and cause permanent damage. According to the CDC, most cases can be treated with a few weeks of antibiotics. The sooner treatment is sought, the better the outcome.

A doctor should be consulted if you remove a deer tick from yourself or your child (save it for testing), you discover a bull’s-eye rash, or if your symptoms are closely related to Lyme and you are not recovering. Lyme disease is often diagnosed by symptoms, because laboratory tests cannot detect all strains and may only be reliable if the infection has been present for an extended period of time. It typically takes a few weeks for the symptoms to show too.

As outdoor enthusiasts at Wisconsin Parent, we by no means want to discourage outdoor activities. In fact, we encourage them wholeheartedly. But we do encourage knowledge and proper inspection, treatment and prevention for tick bites. No couch potatoes here! But educated and aware? Absolutely!

More information on Lyme disease can be found on the CDC website at Education is key, so please, if you take the time to go outside, take the time to keep yourself, your family and your pets safe. You’d worry about Malaria if you were in the Amazon, and in Wisconsin, you HAVE to worry about Lyme.

And here are some products we recommend for avoiding ticks:

NatrapelNatrapel 8-hour provides 8+ hours of protection from biting insects and ticks. This protection is due to its CDC-recommended 20% Picaridin formula. Unlike ineffective DEET alternatives, Picaridin is the only formula that consistently shows equal or better performance than DEET in independent, clinical tests. Even better, Natrapel 8-hour is completely safe on gear and will not melt jackets, fishing line, and other synthetic materials.




*Photos attributed to the Center for Disease Control and the Lyme Disease Association.