Heading Up North soon? You will not be alone. Wood ticks thrive there — and they are growing more worrisome.
Powassan, babesiosis, human anaplasmosis: These are diseases discovered in recent decades that can result from tick bites in Minnesota.
Lyme disease, the best known tickborne ailment, requires deer ticks be attached to a person for 48 hours before passing the disease. That is not the case with Powassan, a rare but much more serious disease. While it is not known how long a tick must be attached before it can convey the disease, “it is likely much shorter than the time needed for other tickborne disease agents,” according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
Powassan can bring on high fever, vomiting and swelling of the brain. It is fatal 10 percent of the time. Those who recover have a 50 percent chance of permanent neurological damage.
Anaplasmosis, which first appeared nationwide in our own St. Louis County in 2009, causes fever, muscle ache and nausea.
In 2015, there were 1,176 cases of Lyme disease reported in the state, 613 confirmed or probable cases of anaplasmosis and no cases of Powassan. Since 2008, there have been only 22 cases of Powassan reported in Minnesota residents.
But the cases of tickborne diseases has been rising over the years, and that requires vigilance.
When you venture into the woods, wear long sleeves. Tuck pants into your socks and spray yourself with a DEET-infused insect repellent. Wear light-colored clothing so you can more easily spot ticks. Stay on the path and avoid venturing into areas thick with brush.
When I took a bushwhacking walk in Vermilion State Park with its manager a few years ago, he made sure I was covered (pants in socks, DEET all around). I noted his seriousness because he knows his terrain. Like so much of northern Minnesota, it’s a beautiful landscape, littered with ticks.
Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.