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Ticks present a growing problem in Wisconsin

What to do in the wake of growing cases of tick-borne diseases.
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 8:07 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2021 at 5:14 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Ticks and the diseases they carry are a growing problem across the country and in the state of Wisconsin. According to the CDC, ticks like Deer Ticks or Lone Star Ticks have grown in prevalence across the state.

The CDC says Deer Ticks are established in almost every county in the state, and Lone Star Ticks are now established in counties across Southern Wisconsin. While ticks live on many animals that ride into new regions, local entomologist Phillip Pellitteri explained a rise in the deer population over the past 50 years is a big reason the ticks, especially deer ticks, have flourished across the state in Wisconsin.

These ticks bring with them diseases like Lyme Disease.

“In the late summer, if you get a tick, there is a 95% chance it will be a Deer Tick,” said Pellitteri. “And in some areas of Wisconsin, over 60% of Deer Ticks carry disease.”

And a 2019 study conducted by the International Journal of Health showed that it does not take a deep woods trip to find ticks. Nearly 20% of people surveyed found ticks after walking a pet, and nearly 25% said they found ticks after yard work.

According to Pellitteri, the important thing is finding them early.

“Doing a tick check every night isn’t a bad idea,” said Pellitteri. “If you find one crawling around on you or before it has been feeding a long time, that isn’t enough time for it to start spreading any diseases.”

If a tick has had the opportunity to start feeding, however, he recommends going to your doctor and letting a medical professional make the call on early antibiotics.

To avoid ticks when out in nature, there are clothes with permethrin spray built into the fabric that kills ticks. Bug spray also helps repel ticks, but an insect repellent could just force the tick to a different part of your body rather than discourage them altogether. That’s why Pellitteri still recommends a regular tick check at the end of the day.

“It is an easy, quick way to try avoiding some really nasty diseases,” said Pellitteri. “And because these ticks are so prevalent, especially this time of the summer, it is a good habit to adopt.”

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