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 May 14, 2010

Outdoors

Tips for avoiding tick encounters at McCoy

Spring and summer bring an increase in the outdoor population at Fort McCoy, Unfortunately, warmer weather also encourages other inhabitants of the area — deer and wood ticks — to come out in force as well.

People who encounter these pests may be in danger of contracting diseases, such as Lyme disease or Babesiosis and Anaplasmosis.

By taking the proper precautions, people can fight back and combat the threat, said David Beckmann, Fort McCoy wildlife biologist.

One of the most important weapons is knowing what to do to reduce the chances of an unwelcome encounter with ticks. Beckmann said deer and wood ticks typically hang on the lower, outer branches or stems of shrubs and plants waiting to hitch a ride on an unsuspecting host.

Tall grassy fields, thick brush areas and game trails also tend to be tick magnets.

“If you can avoid these areas, you can substantially reduce your risk of coming in contact with deer or wood ticks,” Beckmann said. “Even if you come into contact with a tick doesn’t mean you will come down with a disease.”

First, the tick has to be infected, he said. Typically, the tick must be in contact with its host for 24 to 48 hours for the transmission of the disease(s) to take place.

In addition to avoiding areas where ticks may congregate, people can protect themselves against ticks by:
• Wearing clothes that cover their bodies, including their arms and legs, and tucking pants into socks and shirts into pants.
• Applying insect repellent containing DEET or permethrin to clothes as directed in the product instructions;
• Examining clothes and skin frequently for ticks;
• After outdoor activities examine yourself, especially in areas with hair that hold heat; and,
• Using a tick-repellent collar for pets and checking them closely after being outdoors.

Disease symptoms for humans may vary, but often are similar to those associated with the flu, such as fatigue, headaches, muscle aches and fever. Skin rashes, such as a bull’s-eye rash may occur.

The rashes may be odd shaped, single or in multiple numbers and sizes and appear anywhere on the body. Skin rashes may not occur for all people, however, and may not be of a bulls-eye shape. Beckmann said as a general rule anyone bitten by a tick, developing an unusual rash or feeling symptoms associated with tick-borne diseases should promptly see their local medical health center provider and get tested. Tick-borne diseases can be extremely harmful to humans and animals if left untreated.

The Fort McCoy Wildlife Program has brochures with photos and descriptions of deer and wood ticks at all stages of life and detailed information on tick-borne diseases. For more information, call the Permit Sales Office, building 2168, at 608-388-3337. The brochures also are available at the Safety Office, building 1678 (608-388-3403) and the Troop Medical Clinic, building 2669 (608-388-3025/3128).

Beckmann said the U.S. Army Center for Health and Preventive Medicine also has information about the topic at the Web site http://chppm-www.apgea.army.mil/ento/TickEd.htm.

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