ALBERT LEA, Minn. (FOX 47) – With summer weather, a lot of people are visiting state parks or adventuring into the woods.
Also out and about, a high number of ticks that transmit disease.
Over a 15 year period, the Minnesota Department of Health reported more than 10,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne disease.
At Myre Big Island State Park, the humid weather and the forest floor are the ideal environment for the blacklegged or deer tick to feed.
“We didn’t feel them or anything, but we know the ticks were out there because on the drive home, a friend and I found between 30 and 40 ticks on each other that we pulled off.” recalls Bryan Isaacson, who was spending an afternoon at the state park.
Mid-May to Mid-July is the high risk time for blacklegged ticks.
One-fifth of which carry bacteria that causes Lyme disease. This year, the risk is higher as large numbers of the bugs are being discovered.
“In fact this past winter, all the snow we had helped the ticks to survive. It provided them with a little layer of insulation to keep them alive.” said Minnesota Department of Health epidemiologist Dave Neitzel.
When spending time in a wooded area, it is recommended that you stay on the path, wear light colored clothing and put on insect repellent.
“But since no repellent is 100 percent effective, it’s important to check for ticks after you come in from being out in the woods.” Neitzel said.
You should take a shower and change clothes after spending time in the woods. Removing a tick from your body quickly can lower your chances of contracting a disease.
“The ticks need to attach for one to two days before they can transmit the bacteria.” said Neitzel.
Unfortunately, during this time of year, a tick is in its nymph stage, making it so small, about the size of a poppy seed, that many people don’t notice them.
“Thought it was dirt so I scratched at it. Then I had to scratch pretty hard,” said Brianna Torvick about a blacklegged tick she found on her son. “Oh, that’s a tick. So I just pulled it and it came right off.”
Common signs of Lyme disease are a spreading rash or fever.
“Often time too people will have symptoms like a headache, muscle and joint aches, fatigue,” said Neitzel. “Any of that would be an indication that you might want to get this checked out by your doctor.”
Untreated cases can result in joint swelling and brain inflammation. Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics, however the later it is detected, the longer symptoms can take to go away.