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Washtenaw and Livingston counties at heightened risk for Lyme disease

blacklegged tick
Scott Bauer
USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

Washtenaw and Livingston counties have been named "known risks" for ticks infected with Lyme disease.

That's according to an assessment by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Erik Foster is a state medical entomologist. He says the counties got this label due to residents being diagnosed with Lyme disease after tick bites.

“It’s really important knowing that the ticks are now in the area,” he said.

Foster says adult deer ticks – which are the size of an apple seed – are currently the main threat to residents.

“When we start getting into May and through July and August that’s when the most dangerous stage of this tick is out, and those are called the Nymphal ticks,” he said. Nymphal ticks are harder to spot because they're the size of a poppy seed.

Foster says people recreating or working in wooded or brushy areas should wear long pants and do frequent tick checks. Topical insect repellants like DEET are also effective in warding off ticks.

“If you can remove that tick quickly you can prevent Lyme disease that way, as well,” he said.

Foster says the MDHHS wants to know where people are encountering ticks and have set up a tick identification program.

Residents can get more information about the program from their local health department or at www.michigan.gov/lyme.

Paulette is a digital media reporter and producer for Michigan Radio. She started as a newsroom intern at the station in 2014 and has taken on various roles in that time, including filling in as an on-air host.
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