[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                        April 25, 2008

Awareness, precautions key 
to preventing Lyme disease

      With the training population picking up, and more personnel outside at Fort McCoy as warm weather finally arrives, the risk of being bitten by deer ticks and contracting Lyme disease also is rising.

Photo: A view of the female deer tick, which can be a carrier and spread Lyme disease. (File photo)
A view of the female deer tick, which can be a carrier and spread Lyme disease. (File photo)

      David Beckmann, Fort McCoy installation wildlife biologist, said people need to refresh their memories as to what deer ticks look like and what to do if they're bitten by one.

      "The best defense is to become knowledgeable about deer ticks and Lyme disease," Beckmann said. "Preventive measures such as tucking in shirttails and pant legs will reduce access points for ticks to reach your body."

      Personnel also are encouraged to use sprays, such as Permanone, which only is for clothing and is available at Fort McCoy. Military personnel can treat clothing with permethrin repellent, and apply DEET repellent to skin not covered by clothing. Anyone using these materials should follow the accompanying instructions.

      Ticks that are just crawling on skin or clothing cannot make people sick. However, if the tick attaches itself, it should be removed as soon/quickly as possible. The ticks should be saved so they can be identified if personnel become sick from their bite.

      Any military personnel or other personnel coming to Fort McCoy are encouraged to be briefed about deer ticks and Lyme disease. Fort McCoy, as is Wisconsin, is considered a high-risk area for deer ticks and Lyme disease, Beckmann said.

      Deer ticks use woodland/brush habitat to ease their movements. Most cases of deer tick encounters are reported when the temperature at ground level is warm enough for them to move. The high-risk exposure season runs from about May through August.

      Lyme disease may cause symptoms affecting the skin, nervous system, heart and/or joints of an infected individual. The most-typical sign of Lyme disease is a rash, which occurs about three days to one month after the bite of an infected tick. The rash tends to be roughly circular in shape and often expands, developing a bright outer border and clear center and taking on a bull's-eye appearance.

      Sometimes, multiple, similar red rashes may appear on different parts of the body. In addition to this rash, patients often develop a slight fever, chills, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headache and swollen lymph nodes.

      "Soldiers training or spending time in the field (who notice these symptoms) or who are sent overseas and suspect they may have Lyme disease should relate their concerns to medical personnel for an assessment," Beckmann said.

      Soldiers can contact the Troop Medical Clinic (TMC), building 2669, at (608) 388-3025 to get more information about Lyme disease, deer ticks or for information about how TMC is handling the reporting.

      Federal civilian employees can call the Occupational Health Nursing Office (OHNO) at (608) 388-3209/2414 for more information. OHNO will have information about Lyme disease at the Health and Wellness Fair Wednesday, May 14 at the Rumpel Fitness Center, building 1122.

      All cases of Lyme disease that occur in Monroe County are reported through healthcare providers to the Monroe County Health Department at (608) 269-8666 or (608) 372-8666.


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