MILWAUKEE, Wis. — The state Department of Health Services has reported the first-ever death in Wisconsin from Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a tick-borne disease.
Information has not yet been released about the details surrounding the death of the La Crosse County resident.
Most tick-borne diseases in Wisconsin are transmitted by the black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick, which lives in wooded, brushy areas. Deer ticks are the infamous transmitters of Lyme disease, which affected 38,000 Wisconsinites between 1980 and 2015, as well as lesser-known diseases such as anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and Powassan virus infection.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is instead transmitted by dog ticks, which live in more open areas like abandoned fields, prairies or sunnier areas around woodland edges.
“We are saddened to learn of this death and encourage Wisconsin residents to take steps to protect themselves and their families from tick bites while enjoying the outdoors,” Karen McKeown, state health officer, said in the DHS news release.
DHS issued the following suggestions for avoiding tick bites:
- Use an insect repellent with at least 20 percent DEET.
- Spray clothing, socks and shoes with 0.5 percent permethrin products.
- Stay on trails and avoid walking through vegetation.
- Wear long sleeves and pants, tuck in shirts and tuck pant legs into socks.
- Check your entire body for ticks after being outdoors.
- Take a shower as soon as possible after coming in from outdoors.
- Place clothes in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any ticks on clothing.
- Use veterinarian-prescribed tick prevention on pets.