Set of tick bills become law in effort to prevent lyme disease spread

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(WSAW) -- A set of tick bills became law after the governor signed them Tuesday. The effects of the new laws will be noticeable at state parks.

One bill will require state parks to post a sign that brings awareness to tick bites and their connection to lyme disease. It also encourages people to check for ticks and what to do after a hike in the park. The other law would require state parks to sell bug spray so people can help prevent tick bites.

The number of confirmed lyme disease cases has increased in Wisconsin over the last three decades. Central Wisconsin has become more of a prime environment for ticks to live, especially when deer populations are high. Deer ticks are the ticks that carry the lyme disease, unlike dog ticks.

"The tick has the bite you," said Dr. Adam Clements from Aspirus. "It has to stay attached or implanted. It has to ingest some of your blood and then it has to stay attached after that because some of the blood has to go into the tick and then back into you to spread the disease."

Dr. Clements said it takes about 36 hours or longer for the disease to be passed from the tick to a human. Due to their small size, they can easily go undetected. If you see a deer tick filled with blood, you are encouraged to get checked.

Symptoms of lyme disease include a bullseye rash, achy joints and muscles, and a fever.

Speaking to the new laws, Dr. Clements said while people can pick up tick in state parks, he typically sees cases of bites reportedly happening in people's own yards. So, while the signs and spray could help with a little awareness and prevention for people visiting state parks, he said he does not believe the laws will impact the number of cases seen in the state.