Minnesota Is One of the Worst States for Tick-Borne Disease Cases
As much as we love being outside this time of year, there are some risks associated with being at one with nature.
At or near the top of that list is the potential for tick bites, which could lead to a number of serious health issues.
That's something folks in Minnesota are all too aware of.
During the most recent reporting period (2016-2019), the North Star State reported the fifth-most tick-borne illnesses (8,770) in America. Authorities say that number is expected to continue to rise due to the warmer weather which suits these tiny arachnids.
Of the six main tick-related diseases in the U.S., three are prevalent in Minnesota:
- Anaplasmosis (formerly known as Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis)
- Babesiosis (caused by parasites that infect red blood cells)
- Lyme Disease (most frequently reported from the upper midwestern, northeastern, and mid-Atlantic states)
Nationally, there is no contest as to which state is at the epicenter of tick-borne illnesses. Pennsylvania's 43,220 is more than the next two states (New York and New Jersey) combined.
STATES WITH THE MOST TICK-BORNE ILLNESSES (2016-2019)
- Pennsylvania: 43,220
- New York: 24,563
- New Jersey: 18,565
- Wisconsin: 12,186
- Minnesota: 8,770
- Connecticut: 8,513
- Maine: 8,475
- Maryland: 7,159
- New Hampshire: 6,303
- Virginia: 6,179
Experts say there are several precautions you can take in order to limit your exposure to ticks:
- Wear protective clothing: Try covering as much skin as possible by wearing long sleeves, long pants, and socks. Tuck your pants into your socks and choose light-colored clothing to spot ticks more easily.
- Use insect repellent: Apply an EPA-approved insect repellent containing DEET, icaridin, or IR3535 on any exposed skin.
- Treat outdoor gear: If you frequently engage in outdoor activities, consider treating your clothing, camping gear, and other equipment with permethrin to repel ticks.
- Stay on trails: Stick to designated paths and avoid brushing against tall grasses, shrubs, and overhanging branches where ticks are commonly found.
- Perform tick checks: After spending time outdoors, thoroughly check your entire body, including hidden areas like the scalp, behind the ears, and under the arms. Don't forget to inspect your pets as well.
- Shower after outdoor activities: Taking a shower within two hours of coming indoors can help wash away unattached ticks and provide an opportunity to do a thorough tick check.
- Protect your yard: Even your yard can be a haven for tick, especially if you live in a high-risk area. Consult with professionals to evaluate tick-control options for your yard, such as pesticide treatments or implementing landscaping practices that discourage tick habitats.
- Educate yourself: Stay informed about tick-borne illnesses prevalent in your area and learn to recognize the signs and symptoms. Promptly seek medical attention if you suspect a tick bite or experience any related symptoms.
The CDC has a great resource page entirely devoted to ticks. On that page, they provide a checklist for all of the places to thoroughly examine after you come indoors after possible exposure to ticks:
- Under the arms
- In and around the ears
- Inside belly button
- Back of the knees
- In and around the hair
- Between the legs
- Around the waist