National Lyme Disease Awareness Month: Aspirus offers tips on avoiding tick bites

For the Tomahawk Leader

WISCONSIN – As part of National Lyme Disease Awareness Month, Aspirus Health is providing information on how to avoid being bitten by ticks and how to prevent Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

“Ticks are tiny, blood-sucking parasites that can pose a significant threat to human and animal health, and the early spring means the arachnids are ready to catch a ride on their next human or animal,” Aspirus stated.

Ashley Johnson, a Nurse Practitioner at the Aspirus Tick-Borne Illness Center in Woodruff, said there are several types of ticks in the area.

“The first one is the wood tick,” Johnson explained. “Those are the larger ticks. The second one is the deer tick, which is the one that is most known for transmitting Lyme disease. And then we do have a third tick that is pretty rare, but that one is called the lone star tick. And it is starting to migrate north, but it is mainly found in the southern states.”

Johnson. Photo courtesy of Aspirus.

“In order to prevent tick bites, you want to prevent them from getting onto your skin,” Aspirus said, offering the following tips:

  • Tuck your pants into your socks.
  • Wear tall boots if you’re going out into the woods.
  • Use bug sprays with at least a 30% deet concentration.
  • Perform daily tick checks anytime you’re done spending time outside.
  • Throw your clothes in the dryer for 20 minutes on high heat. This will kill any ticks that are potentially on your clothes.
  • Treat your pets, as they’re a high risk for bringing ticks into the home.

“So, where you want to check for ticks is going to be any place that is dark, warm and cozy, so your armpits, your belt line, the groin, the hairline, behind the ears, and you want to do it immediately after you come in from any activity that is considered high risk,” Johnson stated. “So anytime you’re in the tall grass, the woods, the fields, if you’re gardening, those are all considered high risk activities for contracting a tick bite.”

“Removing a tick can be challenging, and there are several options to extract them,” Aspirus said. “Tweezers are effective, and it’s important that you don’t squeeze the body of the tick. Place the tweezers at the head of the tick perpendicular to its body and pull straight up until it releases from the skin.”

Aspirus noted that tick removal tools, like the tick twister and the tick key, can also help to remove a tick without squeezing the body or irritating the tick.

Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, joint pain, headaches, muscle pain and brain fog, as well as the EM (erythema multiforme) rash, or a bullseye rash.

“The thing to keep in mind is that you can still have Lyme disease and not develop the bullseye rash,” Johnson said. “So that is a common misconception, is that you have to have the bullseye rash in order to have Lyme disease.”

Those looking for more information on tick-borne illness care or services to treat tick-borne illnesses can visit

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