Learn How to Safely Enjoy the Outdoors this Summer with Tips from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Are you sending your kids to summer camp? Planning a family camping trip to a state park or hitting the local trail? Wisconsin is one of the top 10 states in the United States for the number of people infected with new tick borne illnesses every year. In 2020, there were over 3,000 cases of Lyme disease reported in WI alone. While the tick that spreads Lyme disease is most common in the northern part of the state, it is also found in wooded areas in southern Wisconsin. Spending time outdoors is one of the best parts about Wisconsin summers. But don’t let ticks suck the fun out of your summer – use strategies to #FightTheBite and stay healthy!
The Blacklegged (Deer) Tick Spreads Most Diseases in Wisconsin
There are two types of ticks that often bite people: the blacklegged tick (commonly known as the deer tick) and the American dog tick (commonly known as the wood tick). Deer ticks are responsible for causing nearly all illnesses spread by ticks in Wisconsin. Deer ticks not only spread Lyme disease, but can also cause other diseases such as anaplasmosis and babesiosis. Wood ticks, on the other hand, are not known to spread disease in Wisconsin except in very rare instances.
It is important to protect yourself and your kids from tick bites on every family adventure. People of all ages can catch diseases spread by ticks, but children 5-14 years old are more likely to get Lyme disease compared to most other age groups.
Here are Tips to Fight the Bite:
- Use an EPA-registered repellent, such as one with DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus and apply according to label instructions.
- Before heading outdoors, treat clothing and gear with permethrin and allow it to dry. Permethrin-treated clothing and gear will kill ticks after contact. Do not use permethrin directly on your skin.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to prevent ticks from biting you. Wearing light-colored clothes can help you easily spot them on you.
- Check for ticks after you spend time in or near wooded areas. Safely remove any ticks from yourself, family, and pets as quickly as possible. Showering within two hours after coming indoors can wash off loose ticks and also lets you check yourself for ticks.
Oh No! I Got a Tick Bite. Now What?
If you or your kids get bitten by a tick this summer, there’s no need to panic. Not all tick bites will make you sick. Simply remove the tick as soon as possible and monitor for symptoms like fever, rash, or new muscle and joint pain for 30 days. If any of these symptoms occur, contact your doctor immediately.
As you and your family step outside this summer – whether it be fun in your own backyard or a trip up north, make sure you’re protected from tick bites. Learn more about how you can Fight the Bite from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and follow us on social media @DHS.WI. Watch for tick prevention giveaways this summer and please share how you and your family will #FightTheBite.