Tickborne Diseases

Ticks can carry a wide range of bacteria, viruses, and parasites which can make you or your pet sick.  Local health departments investigate and follow up with several tickborne infections including Lyme disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and spotted fever rickettsiosis.  When visiting places where ticks are common, check everyone including pets for ticks after returning and remove any attached ticks immediately.  To remove a tick, grasp it with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and pull it straight out without twisting or jerking.  See your doctor right away if you develop a fever, rash or flu-like illness following contact with ticks or their habitats.  Remember to inform the doctor about your outdoor activities or any history of a tick bite.  Most tickborne diseases can be effectively treated if recognized early. 

The best way to protect yourself from tick-borne diseases is:

Tick Avoidance: If possible, avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and lots of leaf litter since ticks prefer these areas. If you do go into areas like this, try to  stay in the center of a cleared trail to avoid contact with overgrown grass, brush, and leaf litter.

Tick Personal protection

  • Use effective tick repellents and apply according to the label instructions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults use repellents with 20-30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing to prevent tick bites. Again, be sure to follow the label directions when using repellents. For more information on repellents, see the EPA Insect Repellants: use and Effectiveness website 
  • Permethrin is also effective against ticks and lasts for days to weeks, but should only be applied to clothes and not directly to the skin.
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants, and long socks to keep ticks on the outside of clothing. Light clothing will help you spot ticks. 
  • Tuck shirts into pants and pants into shoes or socks to keep ticks on the outside of clothing. If outdoors for an extended period of time, tape pant legs where pants and socks meet so that ticks cannot crawl under clothes.

Additional information is available at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website.