With more people heading outdoors to enjoy the warm weather, it’s important for residents of the Upper Peninsula to be aware of the risks posed by ticks. Lyme disease is endemic to the U.P. and is carried mainly by black-legged deer ticks. Using repellent and other techniques to prevent bites is key to avoiding infection.

“Ticks are commonly found in wooded areas that have a lot of leaf litter and grassy areas that are near wooded areas, and you can avoid those areas to avoid being exposed to ticks,” Marquette County Health Department environmental health director Patrick Jacuzzo said. “You can also dress accordingly by having long-sleeve shirts and long pants tucked into your boots, and then as far as your yard care, you know, keeping your lawns mowed and leaf litter cleaned up can reduce tick populations as well.”

“You just have to check your skin meticulously after you’re done being in the woods or walking in long grass or anyplace, basically because they can fall from trees. They can be anywhere,” physician assistant Bonnie Kilpela said.

Ticks tend to latch onto inconspicuous areas of the body and are very small. Performing a thorough check immediately after being outdoors can help reduce the risk of Lyme disease, which presents itself with aches, cold-like symptoms, and a characteristic rash.

“The biggest thing is to come see your healthcare provider if you end up with a rash that is, basically it will start off red in the center, and then it will slowly clear and it will become like a circle around,” added Kilpela. “If you end up with a rash like that you should see your healthcare provider right away.”

Medical professionals recommend seeking swift treatment if you have these symptoms. Permanent arthritic pain and late manifestations with swelling in the brain can occur if Lyme disease is left untreated.