Tick Season is here


Ticks are arthropods related to mites and spiders. In Wisconsin, Ixodes scapularis, commonly called the blacklegged or the deer tick is the primary carrier for most tick borne diseases. The deer tick is smaller than the wood (American dog) tick, which makes it harder to see. Lyme disease is the disease most frequently associated with ticks however in recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of people infected with other diseases carried by ticks.


The most common ticks in the United States are the black legged ticks, which can carry the organisms known to cause Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan disease, Lone Star ticks, which can carry the organisms that cause ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and the Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI), and American dog ticks, which can carry the organisms which cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. Many tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be treated effectively, if caught early.

Blacklegged ticks have a two-year lifecycle, which includes egg, larva, nymph, and adult stages. During this life cycle, the tick will have three blood meals and usually feed on small mammals, birds, and deer. Ticks feed by inserting their mouthparts into the skin of a host, and during this time, infections may be transmitted to the tick or the host. Once attached to a host, ticks will generally feed for three to five days.

Usually only nymphs and adult female ticks are able to transmit most human tick-borne diseases. Tick-borne diseases can result in mild symptoms treatable at home to severe infections requiring hospitalization. Although easily treated with antibiotics, these diseases can be difficult for physicians to diagnose.

Ticks live in wooded, brushy areas that provide food and cover for small animals and deer. Ticks are unable to jump or fly and usually attach to a host at ground level. They hook onto animals or people as they brush against vegetation and then will attach to the host for a blood meal. Tick exposure is greatest in wooded areas, especially along trails and fringe areas.


The use of repellents that contain 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin and clothing will provide protection for up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth. Products that contain permethrin may be used on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.

Tick-borne disease symp-toms include rashes, fever and chills, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. With Lyme disease you may also experience joint pain. The severity and time of onset of these symptoms can depend on the disease and the patient’s personal tolerance level.