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July 1, 2021 - OCONTO COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH REPORTS AN INCREASE IN TICKBORNE ILLNESSES

Many Wisconsinites enjoy spending time outdoors.  While spending time outdoors, Oconto County Public Health and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services encourage everyone to be aware of ticks and to take steps to prevent tick bites.

There are many diseases that can be spread by ticks, including Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis. As of July 1, 2021, there have been 10 cases of Anaplasmosis among Oconto County residents this year, compared to 9 in 2020.   

Anaplasmosis symptoms include fever, chills, severe headache, muscle aches, nausea, and vomiting.  Like other tick related illnesses, anaplasmosis can be treated effectively with an antibiotic.  If anaplasmosis is not treated, it can cause respiratory failure, bleeding problems, organ failure or death.  Getting timely diagnosis and treatment is critical to prevent severe illness from tick related illnesses.

To prevent tick bites and all tick related illnesses:
  • Use repellent on skin and clothing:
    • Use insect repellant 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.
  • Quickly remove any ticks you find on your body:
    • Grasp the tick with a tweezers as close to the skin as possible.
    • If a tweezers is not available, use your fingers and cover your fingers in Kleenex.
    • Pull upward and out with a firm and steady tension.
    • Get rid of the tick by putting it in alcohol or flushing down the toilet.
    • After removing the tick, clean the bite site with rubbing alcohol and wash your hands.
    • Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or other products.
    • Do not handle the tick with bare hands or squeeze the tick.
If you develop a rash, fever, headache, muscle pain, chills, fatigue or nausea/abdominal pain, see your doctor.  For more information on tick related illnesses, visit https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/fight-bite/index.htm.