July 23rd, 2013
By Marianne Lyles
MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. —An aggressive tick that can trigger a disease causing fever and fatigue has an increased presence in Wisconsin, bug experts say.
A person in northwestern Wisconsin has contracted a type of ehrlichiosis that is relatively new to the state, according to University of Wisconsin-Madison health officials. The illness is carried by lone star ticks, and although there’s no formal effort to track the ticks in Wisconsin, about a dozen have been found in the state, said UW-Madison entomology professor Susan Paskewitz.
“It says to me there actually must be thousands and thousands of them out there,” Paskewitz said. “I’m really suspicious now that we may have established populations that are capable of making it through some of our winters.”
The insects are abundant in Texas, the Lone Star State, and other southern states, Paskewitz said. The female tick has a white spot on her back.
The Barron County resident sickened in May by was Wisconsin’s third confirmed case of the type of ehrlichiosis associated with lone star ticks, according to the Department of Health Services. Other cases were reported in Chippewa County in 2008, and in Eau Claire County in 2011.
“It’s a population explosion,” said Shane McCoy of Wil-Kil Pest Control. He also said that the bite of a Lone Star tick can cause some to develop a lifelong allergy to red meat.
Ehrlichiosis can cause fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, confusion and a rash, among other symptoms, and it can be treated with antibiotics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC said the disease has proven fatal in 2 percent of cases documented cases. Symptoms generally appear one to two weeks after a tick bite.
The Lone Star tick does not, however, carry Lyme disease.
Keeping your grass mowed is one way to keep ticks out of your yard.