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Oconto County sees more tick-related illnesses

Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 3:35 PM CDT
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OCONTO, Wis. (WBAY) - Oconto County’s health department reports more tick-related illnesses this year. Oconto County Public Health says there have been 10 cases of anaplasmosis among county residents so far, compared to 9 in all of 2020.

Symptoms of anaplasmosis include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea/vomiting

The health department urges anyone with these symptoms to get checked. It’s effectively treated with antibiotics. Without treatment, it can lead to respiratory failure, bleeding problems and organ failure.

TIPS FOR PREVENTING TICK BITES (Source: Oconto County Public Health)

  • Use repellent on skin and clothing:
    • Use insect repellent with that contains one of the following: at least 20%-30% DEET, 10%-20% Picaridin, 15%-20% IR3535, or 30%-40% oil of lemon eucalyptus on exposed skin and clothes to prevent tick bites. Follow the instructions on the repellent label.
    • Apply permethrin to clothes, shoes and gear. Do not apply directly on skin.
  • Wear appropriate outdoor clothing:
    • Wear long sleeves, long pants and long socks to keep ticks on the outside of clothing.
    • Tuck shirts into pants, and pants into your shoes or socks to keep the ticks on the outside of clothing.
    • Wear light-colored clothing to make ticks easier to spot.
  • Avoid direct contact with ticks:
    • Walk in the center of trails and do not brush up against plants on the edge of trails.
    • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with tall grass and leaf litter.
  • Check for ticks after being outside:
    • Check your full body carefully after being outside, even in your own yard.
    • Pay special attention to your armpits, behind the knees, scalp, in and around ears, inside the belly button and groin.
    • Before going inside, make sure your clothing, gear and pets don’t have ticks.
    • Take a bath or shower as soon as possible after coming inside to find and wash ticks off of your body.
    • Place clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any ticks that may be on clothing.

PREVIOUS REPORTING

SHERWOOD, Wis. (WBAY) - As many people head outside this summer, health officials are also reporting an increase in tick borne diseases, some of which are leading to hospitalizations.

They’re extremely tiny and often hard to escape from, but deer ticks are more abundant than ever this summer, especially at places like High Cliff State Park near Sherwood, where there’s plenty of trees and tall grass.

“Whenever we look at nationwide data for ticks and tick borne illnesses, Wisconsin is always close to the top,” said Dr. Joseph McBride, UW Health Infectious Disease Specialist.

In Door County there’s not only been a spike in cases, but also hospitalizations, prompting the health department to issue a warning over social media.

“When we’re talking tick borne illnesses, it’s not just Lyme that’s the most common one people hear about, but also Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, and there’s a couple other tick borne illnesses,” added Rachael Jandrin, a nurse for Door Co. Public Health.

Common symptoms, you might problem include fever, muscle aches, and with Lyme Disease, a bullseye rash at the site of the bite.

Warnings about ticks have been posted throughout the park. There’s also information about how to lesson your chances of being bit, which include wearing in insect repellent with at least twenty percent deet.

Jandrin added, “The best thing you can do is stick to cut paths, like if your going hiking or something. Don’t rub up against brush or go thru tall grassy areas, try to stick to the middle of paths.”

As for why we’re seeing ticks, Dr. McBride had this explanation.

“A lot of this is due to people’s outdoor activities but also with some of the warming that we’re seeing. The seasonality of ticks is increasing throughout the year so tick season will start a little bit earlier and end later than it had been 20 or 30 years ago,” he said.

Tick season officially runs thru the end of fall, but activity does die down as the weather gets cooler.

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