Lyme Disease Cases Rise By 75% In Past Four Years For Benzie, Leelanau Counties

Cases of Lyme Disease in Benzie and Leelanau Counties has increased by 75% over the past four years, according to the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department.

Lyme Disease is a condition caused by tick bites that can cause chronic and debilitating illnesses that can last for months or years. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and rashes.

According to the health department, as more people head outdoors for the summer, the risk of human-tick interactions increase. Adult ticks, tick larvae and their nymphs are at their most active during the summer, but they are hard to spot because they are smaller than a sesame seed.

Last year, the health department reported 51 suspected or confirmed cases of Lyme Disease.

“While ticks tend to live in wooded, brushy, and grassy areas, they can be spread around by animals and people nearly everywhere at this time of year,” said Scott Tucker, superintendent of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. “Make sure to do frequent tick checks even if you don’t think you’ve been in at-risk areas!”

Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department recommends the following steps to protect yourself against ticks:

  • Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours.
  • Wear clothing that has been treated with permethrin.
  • 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.
  • Put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for 60 minutes to kill any remaining ticks.
  •  Take a shower as soon as you can after coming indoors.

Any questions about ticks in Benzie and Leelanau Counties can be directed to the health department at 231-882-2103.

For more information about Lyme Disease, click here.