Tickborne Illness and Prevention
Monday, June 11th, 2018
Spring did finally arrive in Minnesota and many of us were happy for the warmer weather.
Unfortunately, tick season also arrives at this time of year. There are about a dozen different types of ticks — but the two we see most in Minnesota are the American dog tick (or wood tick) and the blacklegged tick (or deer tick).
Ticks can transmit as many as 20 diseases according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but Lyme disease is the most prevalent tickborne illness in Minnesota with over 1300 confirmed cases reported in 2016.
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia Burgdorferi and is transmitted primarily by infected deer ticks.
Wood ticks can also carry diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is most common in the south, but a small number of cases have occurred in Minnesota.
The risk of tick bites is highest from mid-May through mid-July but ticks are active from early spring into late fall.
- Prevent tick bites by covering your body when you will be in tick-infested areas like grassy fields and woods.
- Apply bug spray that contains DEET.
- Check your body from head-to-toe when you come indoors.
- Be sure to check children and pets, too.
Not every tick bite results in disease
Most people who are infected with Lyme disease will show symptoms within one to four weeks of being bit. A circular, target-like rash appears in over 70% of Lyme disease cases and some people report flu-like symptoms including fever, joint pain, chills, headaches and muscle aches.
If left untreated, Lyme disease can start to affect more areas of the body including the heart and nervous system.
If you have concerns about a tick bite or are showing symptoms—even if you are unsure if you have been bitten—please schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. If diagnosed in the early stages, Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics. Learn more at the Minnesota Department of Health.
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