Wisconsin is a tick magnet and already this year people are noticing the little insects in the woods. Already in 2012, Marathon County has confirmed three cases of Lyme disease.
Though they look harmless, wood and deer ticks can spread disease in a matter of hours.
Lyme disease is an illness caused by a bacteria that is carried by deer ticks. Deer ticks are tiny, black, eight-legged insects.
Ticks feed off of blood, so it's common for them to hitch a ride on any warm body, including people and pets.
The Marathon County Humane Society is seeing a steady stream of tick-infested animals coming into the shelter.
Each time one arrives, or after a walk, the animals are thoroughly checked. Staff have had to medicate the animals earlier than normal this year.
"With the big warm that we had I think it hit everyone by surprise I know it did us," said Mary Kirlin, the shelter's executive director. "We weren't quite ready to Frontline everybody before the weather shifted but right now all the dogs that go out are Frontlined," she said.
Frontline is a brand of tick and flea medication that is applied to an animal's skin, protecting them from Lyme disease.
Larry Gordon, D.O., a pediatrician at Aspirus Weston Clinic, says he sees cases of Lyme disease every year.
"Really a deer tick needs to be on you for about 24 hours or longer which is how long it takes to get engorged to have a risk of even getting Lyme disease," Dr. Gordon said.
He says there aren't standard symptoms but they mostly include fatigue, achy joints, fever, and for half of people a rash that looks like a bulls eye around the bite.
A heavy dose of antibiotics is usually enough to treat the disease, but if it's caught too late there could be long-term health effects.
Dr. Gordon says the best way to prevent the disease is to wear light-colored, long sleeved shirts and pants while out in areas heavy with ticks, like woods, and always check your entire body when you get home.
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