New study: summer could see a lot of Lyme disease cases - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

New study: summer could see a lot of Lyme disease cases

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NORTH CENTRAL WISCONSIN (WAOW) -

This summer may be one of the worst yet for Lyme disease. But experts say that has less to do with the weather and more to do with the number of coyotes in our area.

"Basically there's this chain with Lyme disease—small mammals get infected by the bacteria, then ticks feed on these small mammals, get infected, then lay their eggs and feed on deer," DNR Wildlife Biologist Lesa Kardash said.

DNR officials say foxes usually eat those small mammals, stopping that chain. But because of a boom in the coyote population, that's not happening.

"Coyotes don't tolerate fox within the same area," Kardash said.

And coyotes don't eat those small mammals carrying the bacteria.

"We had a very mild winter here in WI as well as an early spring and because of that there's going to be an earlier activity of ticks and more activity," Kardash said.

So what should you do if you find a tick on your skin? Doctors say it should be slowly removed using tweezers.

"We have really good evidence that it takes at least a day and a half for a tick being attached before it transmits the germ that causes Lyme disease," Infectious disease consultant Matt Hall said.

Symptoms include fever, chills, aches and tiredness. Both doctors and DNR experts agree—prevention is key.

"If you did a tick check thoroughly daily, you would greatly decrease your risk of Lyme disease," Hall said.

"More sure you're wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants, make sure you take your socks and wear them over your pants," Kardash said.

It's not just people that need to be checked. Veterinarians say you should also protect your pet.

"Check frequently, pull the tick off and be a cautious pet owner," Veterinarian Heather James said.

So this summer—long clothes, bug repellant and frequent checks are key to avoiding the effects of those infectious ticks.

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