Tips for prevention, tick removal and bite treatment
Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, WI – Lyme disease is the most common disease spread by the bite from an insect, with 30,000 cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year. This number, however, does not reflect every case of Lyme Disease that is diagnosed annually.
Blacklegged ticks are the most common carrier of Lyme disease; these include deer ticks, wood ticks and lone star ticks, all of which are most active in Wisconsin from May to September.
Regi Geissler, registered nurse at HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals says finding the tiny insects on people and pets early is important.
“If a bite leads to Lyme disease, and it’s untreated, it can produce a variety of symptoms including fever, rash, arthritis and facial paralysis in humans,” she said. “In pets Lyme disease can cause a loss of appetite, reduced energy, joint pain and even kidney failure which can be fatal.”
To prevent a tick bite, the CDC recommends the following:
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET
- Wear long sleeves, long pants and long socks when outdoors for any length of time
- Check your clothing, body and hair carefully after coming indoors
- Check your pets for ticks daily, especially around their ears, eyelids, tail and toes
To remove a tick:
- Grasp tick with a narrow-bladed tweezers as close as possible to the skin
- Pull upward and out with a firm and steady tension
- Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or other products
- Don’t squeeze, crush or puncture the tick’s body, which may contain infectious fluids
- Do not twist the tick, which can cause the mouthparts to break off and stay in the skin
- Clean the bite site with rubbing alcohol after removal and monitor that area of your skin
Early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease:
- Three to 30 days after tick bite:
- Fever and/or chills
- Muscle aches
- Bullseye rash at the site of the bite (occurs in approximately 70 percent of infected persons - not everyone)
- Days to months after tick bite:
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Loss of muscle tone or droopiness in face
- Severe joint pain, particularly in the knees
- Heart palpitations
- Numbness, tingling or shooting pains in the hands or feet
Geissler says if symptoms persist or worsen, you should seek emergency care. Emergency departments at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital, 900 W. Clairemont Ave. in Eau Claire and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital, 2661 Co. Hwy I in Chippewa Falls are open 24/7.
To learn more about tick bite prevention, visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website. You can also download The Tick App to your Apple or Android device to report ticks, find prevention tips and help researchers better understand ticks and the diseases they carry. The free app was developed by the Midwest Center of Excellence Vector-Borne Disease at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
About HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital
HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the Founding Institute, and it is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System. Since 1889, it has been meeting patient needs in western Wisconsin with the latest medical innovations and technology, together with a Franciscan whole-person healing tradition.
About HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital
HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the Founding Institute, and it is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System. Since 1885, it has served the people of the Chippewa Falls area with health care that is high tech and high touch. Known locally for the quality of the care it provides patients, the hospital has been recognized nationally for its outstanding patient satisfaction levels.
About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality, Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our physician practices and 15 local hospitals in two states - Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan, and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org. For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit www.hospitalsisters.org.