Ticks, Lyme Disease on the Rise in Michigan

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Spring is just beginning to bloom, but the ticks have already arrived.

The nation's tick population has been steadily increasing over the past decade. In Michigan, the insects have moved down, more prominently into the lower peninsula.

Some of them -- though not all -- are carrying Lyme Disease with them. Most hover around the coastline.

"As soon as the weather gets above 45 degrees, it's important that we start to take those kind of precautions against the bites," said Jennifer Smith, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. "The best thing you can do is take those preventative measures. Protect yourself and if you do notice a tick on your body remove it as quickly and efficiently as possible."

To keep ticks away, the health department recommends you:

  • Walk on trails, as close to the center as possible

  • Use insect repellent that contains 20-30 percent DEET

  • Wear boots

  • Tuck in the cuffs of your pants

  • Wear clothing that has been treated with permethrin
  • If a tick does bite you, remove it as quickly as possible with tweezers.

    "Lyme disease is treatable, it's also preventable," said Smith. "So in addition to those preventative measures, if you notice that a tick has bitten you, you need to go and call your doctor if you start to have secondary complications."

    In 2013, there were 165 confirmed cases of Lyme Disease in Michigan, up nearly 66 percent from 2012.

    A rare, more severe type of disease, called Powassan Virus, has been found in other Great Lakes states, but has not yet been found in Michigan.

    Veterinarians are also encouraging pet owners to keep ticks away from their animals, by using a variety of treatments, like special collars and chewable tablets.

    But Dr. Stephen Thimmig of Zeeb Pet Health Cener says you only need one if you'll be in a tick-infested area.

    There are also vaccines on the market, but he says those are not necessary.

    "If you're going into a wooded area and they're wearing a preventative tick collar," he said, "it shouldn't be a problem."



     
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