We all know that summers are short in the Northland - that's why everyone attempts to squeeze in as much outdoor fun and activities as they can.  One dilemma, though is that the warm summer temperatures that make us want to spend as much time outdoors is also the prime season for flies, mosquitoes, insects, and ticks.

While the majority of those "summertime pests" are harmless enough, some do carry risks with them.  One of those risks is with wood ticks and the ability for them to carry Lyme Disease.

First recognized in 1975, Lyme Disease is nothing new.  But it's spread is on the increase.  In Wisconsin alone, cases of Lyme Disease have "more than doubled over the past 15 years".

Due to it's increasing prevalence, it's prudent for Northland residents - especially those who spend any amount of time outdoors - to be aware of the disease:  how it spreads and how to watch for infection symptoms.

Encephalitis or Lyme Virus Infected Tick Arachnid Insect Crawling on Wood
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According to data provided by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, no one is immune from the potential to get Lyme Disease:

"Anyone can get Lyme Disease, but people who spend more time outdoors are at a higher risk of being bitten by an infected tick.  Ticks can be found in areas with woods, brush, or tall grass.  Ticks are most active from May to November, but it is important to use caution year-round."

To help people provide an defensive guard against the disease, the Wisconsin DHS offers some of the following details and signs to watch for:

Areas of the body to look for tick-sourced infestation:

  • Behind the knees
  • Armpits
  • Scalp
  • In and around the ears
  • Inside the belly button
  • Groin

 Symptoms of possible Lyme Disease infection:

  • Circular reddish rash, also known as erythema migrans (EM) rash - occurring in about 70 to 80-percent of all cases.  Expands in size over a period of days or weeks.  May clear in the center as it gets bigger, giving it a "bulls eye" apperance.
  • Fever
  • Sweats
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Stiff neck
  • Muscle or joint pain

Left untreated, Lyme Disease can cause the following symptoms to start to appear in other parts of the body.:

  • Arthritis (joint swelling)
  • Meningitis (brain and spinal cord swelling)
  • Facial palsy (a droop on one or both sides of the face)
  • Heart Abnormalities
  • Nerve pain
  • Shooting pains
  • Numbness
  • Tingling in the hands or feet

Signs of Lyme Disease should be followed up on immediately. "Most people treated with oral antibiotics during the early stages of Lyme Disease recover completely."  Delaying a visit to the doctor amplifies the problem and causes treatment problems:

"If treatment is delayed the bacteria can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system and have long-term effects.  Lyme Disease can be difficult to treat in later stages, and severe cases may require intravenous treatment".

Additional informaton about Lyme Disease - including steps you can take to help prevent wood tick bites - can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website.

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