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Lyme Disease Can be Transmitted by Ticks in Washtenaw County

Know how to "fight the bite" and stay safe this tick season.

Spring is finally here and, unfortunately, that means tick season has arrived as well. Washtenaw County Public Health reminds residents that Lyme disease has been detected in Washtenaw County, and urges them to “fight the bite.”

“We have always promoted tick-borne disease prevention,” says Laura Bauman, epidemiology manager with Washtenaw County Public Health. “However, this year it is especially important as Lyme disease transmission is possible within our own community.”

Last summer, a local resident who had not traveled outside of the county was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Until then, local cases of Lyme disease have been related to travel to west Michigan or other states where infested tick populations are present. Of the 17 cases of Lyme in Washtenaw residents in 2016, four were likely exposed within the county.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is spread by the bite of an infected blacklegged (deer) tick. The more common dog tick does not carry Lyme disease. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, aching muscles or joints and a skin rash at the site of the tick bite that may look like a bull’s eye or target. Untreated infections may spread to the joints, heart and nervous system.

Infections are diagnosed based on symptoms and the possibility of contact with infected ticks. Health care providers must be ready to diagnose cases and provide early, appropriate treatment. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

Prevention

tick ID card

All residents and visitors are urged to "fight the bite" against ticks and tick-borne disease. Transmission season for Lymedisease in Michigan typically occurs from May through August, with a peak in June. Frequent tick checks are important during this time of year, as prompt removal of ticks can prevent Lyme disease infection.

You can also reduce your chances of getting a tick-borne disease by using repellents, checking for ticks on your body, clothes and pets, and showering after being outdoors. Avoiding wooded and bushy areas with high grass is also recommended. If you have a tick bite followed by a fever or rash, seek medical attention. More information about Lyme disease and tick-borne disease prevention is available at http://bit.ly/WCPHLyme.

Tick Testing and Identification

Washtenaw County Public Health encourages residents to submit ticks for identification. Blacklegged ticks found in Washtenaw County tested positive for the Lyme pathogen in 2016. The more we test local ticks, the better we will know how widespread the risk of Lyme disease is in different areas of the county.

The State of Michigan has a program to identify ticks, and if it is a live blacklegged tick, test for Lyme disease. Testing information is available at www.michigan.gov/lymedisease.

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