In time for the Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer, DHS Vectorborne Disease Epidemiologist Rebecca Osborn on Friday, May 28 held a briefing to discuss ways people can protect themselves from tick and mosquito bites to avoid illnesses such as Lyme disease, West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis, and more.
"Both ticks and mosquitoes are common in Wisconsin, especially in wooded and brushy and grassy areas. They are active now and will be for the next several months and both can spread disease through a bite," said Rebecca Osborn, DHS Vectorborne Disease Epidemiologist.
DHS says there is an average of 3,500 cases of Lyme disease reported each year in the state, but likely under-reported. Wisconsin is in the top-20 of states for cases.
"For ticks, specifically when you’re talking about Lyme disease, somewhere between 20 and 50 percent of all ticks will be carrying the bacteria that causes lyme disease, and that’s of a certain type of tick, the deer tick," said Osborn.
DHS says people need to take precautions when heading outside, wearing insect repellent with DEET or other types of proven repellents, wear long-sleeves, treat clothing with permethrin (another repellent), check yourself and family members for ticks when coming back inside, and throw clothes in the dryer for 10 minutes to kill any bugs that may still be on the clothing.
"The likelihood of getting a tick-borne disease from a tick bite is still relatively low, but compared to a lot of places in the country, we do have relatively high tick activity, and relatively high infection in our ticks," said Osborn.