With the unofficial start of summer behind us, many Wisconsin residents are looking ahead to warmer weather and all the resources our state has to offer. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has launched a statewide campaign to help everyone Fight the Bite and avoid tick and mosquito bites this season.
Many people find ticks and mosquitoes to be annoying when they’re enjoying outdoor activities; but even worse, bites from either can make you sick. Lyme disease, spread by ticks, and West Nile virus, spread by mosquitoes, are the most common diseases spread by these pests in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin is in the top 20% of all U.S. states reporting high numbers of illnesses spread by ticks. Thousands of Wisconsinites get Lyme disease each year and hundreds more get other illnesses spread by ticks, like anaplasmosis and Powassan virus. Last year, 3,105 cases of Lyme disease were reported in Wisconsin.
There were 33 human cases of West Nile virus reported in our state in 2018, many of whom were hospitalized for severe illness. Certain dead birds can be a sign of West Nile virus activity in an area. DHS urges anyone who finds a sick or dead bird to call the dead bird reporting hotline at 800-433-1610.
Wisconsin residents can protect themselves from illnesses spread by ticks and mosquitoes, yet still enjoy the outdoors. You can take these simple steps can take to stay safe and avoid getting sick:
- Use an EPA-registered repellent, such as DEET, and apply according to label instructions.
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
- Wear light colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Check for and safely remove ticks from yourself, family, and pets.
- Take steps to control mosquitoes outside your home.