Tick Disease

In Wisconsin, there are several tick diseases to be aware of including Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis/Anaplasmosis, and Babesiosis, along with the more rare Powassan virus infection. All of these diseases can be found in Lincoln County and are most commonly spread to humans by the blacklegged tick. Blacklegged ticks live in wooded, bushy areas and usually feed on small mammals, birds, and deer. They are unable to jump or fly and will crawl onto animals or people as they brush against them. Therefore, tick exposure is greatest in wooded areas, especially along trails. The risk of getting a tick disease also increases with more rainfall and warmer weather, as this can create conditions that increase tick survival. Ticks will therefore be most active in Wisconsin from late spring to early fall, which is why it is important to protect yourself during these months in order to prevent tick disease.

Signs and symptoms of tick disease include but are not limited to: fever, chills, nausea, joint pain and/or swelling, tiredness, and headache. Lyme Disease symptoms can also include a red circular rash around or near the site of a tick bite, otherwise known as a “bulls eye rash”. It is important to get treatment as soon as possible if you start to experience any of these symptoms.

Follow these tips to prevent tick disease:
  • Try to avoid wooded areas with high grass and leaf litter. However, if venturing in these areas, avoid overgrown grass and brush.
  • When outdoors in wooded or grassy areas, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants with cuffs tucked into socks, and light colored clothing so ticks are easier to see.
  • Use insect repellant with 20 to 30% DEET on skin and clothing to provide protection for several hours.
  • Treat clothing with 0.5% permethrin, which is an insecticide that kills ticks on contact. Therefore, it should not be applied directly to skin and clothing treated with permethrin should be removed soon after leaving grassy or wooded areas to reduce insecticide exposure. Make sure to follow directions on manufacture’s label when treating clothing.
  • Check your body for ticks and shower soon after being outdoors.
  • After coming indoors, heat dry clothing and gear in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes, or one hour for wet items, to kill any ticks present.
Additional Resources:
Lincoln County Health Department "Tick Diseases"
WI DHS "Tickborne Infections"
CDC "Ticks"