Earlier this year, the National Pest Management Association predicted an earlier boost in tick population in the Midwest due to our unusually warm winter with sporadic extreme weather, followed by an early spring. These two conditions are the perfect storm for a larger tick population.

If this wasn’t enough to worry about, a rare tick-borne virus has made an outbreak in Wisconsin. While ticks are most commonly known for transmitting Lyme’s disease, the ‘new’ virus, called Powassan, is much worse according to experts. An attached tick only needs 15 minutes to transmit the virus, where it needs 24 hours to transmit Lyme’s disease to its host. Wisconsin has had the second highest number of Powassan outbreaks within the United States for the past 10 years, so it is certainly something to be well aware of this summer.

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What happens if you become infected?

One of the most troubling details about Powassan, or POW, is the progression of the virus. It attacks the nervous system and parts of the brain that control memory, thinking, and balance. It can also cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord). It is reported that a high proportion of victims end up with permanent neurological damage.

What are the symptoms?

Unfortunately, many people who develop the virus do not develop any symptoms, and therefore it is hard to catch. The time between the bite and when symptoms develop ranges from one week to a month. If you or someone you know begins to experience the following symptoms after being outdoors and in wooded areas, seek medical attention immediately.

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Loss of coordination
  • Speech difficulties
  • Seizures

What can you do?

There are plenty ways to help prevent infection during these warmer months.

  • Wear long pants and sleeves to cover the skin from exposure. Wearing lighter colors will also help you more easily identify ticks.
  • Stay in the middle of trails rather than near the edges.
  • Wear repellent on exposed skin.
  • Inspect yourself, family, and pets for ticks when you get back inside.
  • Throw your clothing in the dryer for an hour to kill off any ticks you may not have seen.
  • Mow your lawn regularly to reduce flea and tick hang-outs.
  • Keep your lawn clean and avoid overwatering. Ticks like shady, moist areas.

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Let us help you control ticks and mosquitoes in your own backyard. Wil-Kil’s experienced professionals can:

  • Build a plan customized for your property.
  • Use target application techniques to stop mosquitoes and ticks at the source.
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Contact us today for more information.