Tick Season In North Dakota, Do We Need To Worry About Lyme?
I saw a recent post on a local Facebook group that I belong to warning Bismarck residents that ticks are out in local parks.
Before COVID-19 there was a lot of talk about Lyme Disease and the tick that spreads that disease, the deer tick spreading into North Dakota. Unfortunately, there has been very little research released by the CDC or other agencies since 2020 when COVID-19 began to take over our lives. Before that, officials wanted us to believe that cases were becoming more and more common in the state, and that deer ticks were becoming more established in North Dakota.
The latest research I could find came from 2019. It hardly shows a huge Lyme disease threat for North Dakota. According to this article from the CDC, North Dakota had only 14 confirmed cases and with 24 probable cases. Those numbers are actually down from the previous year's confirmed cases.
According to Tick Check, North Dakota has had a total of 315 confirmed cases of Lyme disease from 2000 to 2018. Not exactly startling numbers. However, Tick Check does believe that there have been more likely 3,150 total cases during that time frame since Lyme disease often goes unreported.
Burleigh County has only had 23 reports of Lyme disease from 2000 to 2018. Morton County has only 6 cases reported. The vast majority of ticks found in the Bismarck Mandan area are dog ticks.
The majority of cases of Lyme disease come from the eastern portion of the state. Cass county in Fargo has by far the most cases in the state year after year. It's also believed that many of those cases actually originated in Minnesota from cabin owners or travelers into the state of Minnesota. Minnesota and Wisconsin are two states with high numbers of deer ticks.
So, what's the best way to keep deer ticks and other ticks such as dog ticks away? According to an article from the North Dakota University System, UND microbiologist Catherine Bissette says when you're out in tick country you should wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to spot ticks, use a DEET insect repellant, tuck your pants inside your boots or shoes if possible, wear long-sleeve shirts when walking in the woods or fields, and most importantly check yourself and children several times after being in the outdoors.
It's important to note that other ticks besides deer ticks cause other tick-borne illnesses such as Rockey Mountain fever that you certainly want to avoid. A pretty sure sign that you've encountered a deer tick, that could spread Lyme Disease is a red bullseye mark on your body. It's important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. They will treat the bite with antibiotics, that will help eradicate Lymes from your system.
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