State warns of uptick in Lyme disease as ticks spread

This is a March 2002 file photo of a blacklegged tick, or deer tick, under a microscope in the entomology lab at the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown, R.I.


LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Tick season is here and so are the health warnings from state officials.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says cases of tick-borne diseases, particularly Lyme disease, are popping up across the state.

TICK HOT SPOTS

The blacklegged tick is known for carrying Lyme disease, and its presence is rapidly growing in West Michigan.

Lyme disease is caused by bacterium carried by the blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick. That specific type of tick is well-established in West Michigan, and health officials say it’s starting to spread to east across the Lower Peninsula.

Health officials say last year, 221 people reported Lyme disease, up from 149 reported cases the year prior. Approximately two out of three cases reported exposure to ticks in Michigan.

Kent, Ionia, Barry, Allegan, Ottawa, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Van Buren and Calhoun counties are all areas with a known risk for Lyme disease, according to the state.

AVOIDING TICKS

The best way to avoid tickborne illness is avoid tick prone areas, including overgrown grass, brush and leaf litter. Keep your yard mowed.

Ticks can also be carried by pets, so tick prevention products for dogs and cats is recommended.

Repellent with DEET or Picaridin is recommended. Lemon or eucalyptus oil may als help. Clothes can also be treated with permethrin, but it shouldn’t be applied directly to your skin.

Wear light colored clothing if possible, to make spotting a tick easier. Long sleeved shirts, pants and closed toed shoes are recommended, as is tucking in shirts and pants so ticks have no easy way to make it onto your skin.

>>PDF: 5 most common ticks in Michigan

Lastly, always check yourself and animals for ticks after going outside. Washing clothes in hot water and drying on high heat will kill any ticks remaining on clothing.

IF YOU FIND A TICK

Health officials say if you find a tick on your body, remove it quickly. The best method is slip tweezers, grasp the tick firmly and as close to the skin as possible and pull it off in a steady motion. Cleanse the area with antiseptic.

You should then monitor yourself for symptoms of illness, including fever, rash, muscle or joint aches. If you experience any health issues, contact your doctor.

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Online:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Lyme disease