The Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department said Tuesday that there has been an increase in tick-borne diseases in Benzie and Leelanau counties in the past month.
Since Jan. 1, BLDHD reported 25 suspected or confirmed cases of Lyme disease and three suspected or confirmed cases of ehrlichiosis. Of the 25 cases of Lyme disease, 14 cases have been diagnosed in the past month, officials said.
Last year, BLDHD reported 34 suspected or confirmed cases of Lyme disease and six suspected or confirmed cases of ehrlichiosis.
“Exposure to ticks can occur in many outdoor environments – grassy yards, gardens and woods,” said Michelle Klein, director of Personal Health at BLDHD. “Since we can’t always pinpoint the exact place of exposure, it is best to take precautions any time you are spending time outdoors.”
Tick exposure can occur year-round, but ticks are most active during the warmer months, April-September. There are several different kinds of ticks, and not all tick bites will make you sick. However, several tick-borne diseases occur in Michigan, including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and babesiosis.
Lyme disease symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic skin rash. You can take steps against ticks and the diseases they may carry by doing the following:
• Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours. It can also be used on children over 2 months of age. Care should be taken to avoid eyes and mouth.
• Wear clothing that has been treated with permethrin.
• Before going indoors, remove ticks from your clothes and pets.
• Look for ticks on your body, especially the scalp, ears, armpits, belly button, waist and groin.
• 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.
• If you find an imbedded tick, immediately remove it as it typically requires 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.