Lyme disease a concern during the summer months

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- As the temperatures continue to rise, many Wisconsinites will be heading to the woods for adventure, but health experts say you need to be careful when doing so.

Photo: Kaldari / Wikipedia

A tick bite can lead to big problems if you're not careful.

Each year - approximately 300 thousand people in the u-s contract Lyme disease from tick bites. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Wisconsin ranked fourth in the country in possible Lyme cases in 2017.

Lyme disease attacks the joints, heart, and nervous system if left untreated. Ticks like to attach around the scalp - under the arms - around the waste and behind the knees. A common sign of Lyme disease is a "bull's eye rash" on a person's back.

Nikki Stabe, a nurse with HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls, says there are steps you can take to minimize your risk of contracting this disease.

"Wearing long sleeves and long pants when you know you're going to be in the woods or tall grass and wearing bug spray with DEET,” she said to WEAU 13 News on Friday. “The most important thing is to promptly remove the tick and you can do that with fine tooth tweezers. Pull straight out; you don't want to twist because that can leave the head imbedded."

The CDC also says there has been an uptick in Lyme cases in the Midwest. Although the bull's eye rash is a common sign, Stabe says 20-30% of people with Lyme disease do not get it. If you suspect you or someone you know has Lyme disease, visit your healthcare provider as soon as possible.