Summer is approaching and as we pack our bags for camping or get out to explore, the Kewaunee County Public Health Department is working to increase awareness on Lyme disease by hanging up signs provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on local nature trails and at parks.

Over the past few years, the health department has seen a steady uptick in the tick-borne illness. The bacterial infection is often caused by a bite from a black-legged or deer tick.

The chances of being bitten by a tick in Northeast Wisconsin tend to rise from June to August with warmer weather, so it’s important to be proactive in prevention, when heading outdoors.

“The single best way to protect yourself is to use repellents with 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin and clothing to prevent tick bites and check your skin frequently for ticks,” says Cindy Kinnard, RN, Director of Kewaunee County Public Health Department.

But, that’s not all, Kinnard suggests wearing light-colored clothing, so it is easier to spot ticks, and long instead of short sleeves, as well as pants instead of shorts. Also, if it is possible, try to avoid walking in wooded areas and tall grass.

If you find a tick on your body, Kinnard advises immediately removing the insect without causing major agitation. “It’s suggested to use a tweezers and grab the head of the tick and slowly pull it straight out without twisting,” says Kinnard.

Lyme Disease symptoms include a rash with a bull’s-eye appearance, aches, fever, joint pain, chills and fatigue. A person who starts experiencing any symptoms from the bite should contact their doctor’s office immediately.

And, if man’s best friend is heading out on an adventure with you, remember to frequently comb through their fur, as they too are prone to tick bites. And, if you happen to spot a tick on your dog, also remove the insect as soon as you can and contact your local veterinarian.

For more information, visit the Kewaunee County Public Health Department’s “Climate and Health” page, scroll down to “Toolkits” and look for the “Vectorborne Disease Toolkit.”