Mayo Clinic Health System is encouraging Minnesotans to be increasingly mindful of ticks and tick-borne diseases due to spring’s early arrival. The warm weather experienced across Minnesota in recent months has caused an increase in adult female and young Blacklegged Ticks, which are the primary disease carriers.
The most common tick-borne diseases seen in Minnesota are Lyme disease and human anaplasmosis. Symptoms for both include fever, headache, irregular heartbeat and joint pain, and most patients infected with Lyme disease experience a circular rash. Those most susceptible to these symptoms are immuno compromised individuals.
“The best way to avoid ticks and ultimately tick-borne diseases is to check yourself, and those with you, for ticks after being in wooded or grassy areas,” says Thiha Tin, M.B.B.S., infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic Health System. “Ticks tend to find areas on the body that are prone to moisture. So, checking areas like the back of the knees and legs is very important.”
Others measures that can be taken to avoid ticks include keeping lawns mowed short, covering arms and legs with long clothing, and wearing insect repellents containing DEET.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, “Over the past decade, 1,000 to 2,000 or more combined cases of these tick-borne diseases each year have been reported to the Minnesota Department of Health, with these numbers increasing in recent years.”
If bitten by a tick, understanding when it occurred and how long it has been attached to your skin is very important. “Ticks need between 24 and 48 hours to effectively transmit any diseases they are carrying,” says Dr. Tin. “We recommend people call their health care provider if they are unsure of when the tick exposure occurred, and also for instructions on how to properly remove a tick.”
When tick-borne diseases are treated effectively and in a timely manner, most patients experience a full recovery. If left untreated, heart issues, long-term joint inflammation and neurological complications can occur.
For more information or to address a tick-borne disease concern, please call Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato’s Infectious Disease department at 1-800-327-3721 (toll-free).