Leelanau News and Events

Lyme Disease Cases On The Rise This Summer

By Emily Tyra | July 27, 2020

The Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department is reporting 12 cases of Lyme disease since June 1 of this year — six in Benzie County and six in Leelanau County. This is a significant increase over past years, according to Xavier Gagné, registered environmental sanitarian at the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department. By contrast, there were 16 total cases reported during the previous 5 years.

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black legged ticks. Symptoms may include fever, chills, headache, fatigue and distinctive lesions or rash.  Finding and removing ticks promptly can prevent Lyme disease — ticks must be attached for 36 to 48 hours to transmit the disease, which is often treated with antibiotics. Untreated, the condition can cause chronic and debilitating illness that can last months or years.

Ticks live in places where there is a lot of tall grass, shrubs and leaves. In the summer, not only adult ticks, but also tick larvae and nymphs are at their most active. They attach themselves to deer, mice, dogs, humans and can stay attached for a few days. Tick bites don’t usually hurt, so they are difficult to notice.

In addition, “Nymphal ticks are very small and difficult to detect — they are smaller than a sesame seed. Always perform a tick check after going outdoors, especially while in the wilderness,” stated Gagné.

Here are some recommended steps to guard against ticks and the diseases they may carry:
• Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours.

• Look for ticks on your body, including on your scalp and behind your ears. If you find one, immediately remove it as it must be attached for 36 to 48 hours to transmit Lyme disease. Use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible and pull upward.

• Take a shower as soon as you can after coming indoors.

• Put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for 60 minutes to kill any remaining ticks.

Additional information regarding ticks and Lyme disease in Michigan can be found here.

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