Avoiding insect illnesses as health officials report increase in - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Avoiding insect illnesses as health officials report increase in cases

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SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) -- Federal health officials say diseases spread by ticks and mosquitoes have more than tripled since 2004.

Doctors in Wisconsin say they're seeing more cases of these insect-borne illnesses. Lyme disease is an issue here in Wisconsin.

Tick-borne illnesses have been increasing across the U.S. steadily every year.

"More people are exposed to ticks in a wider geographic area, as well as the fact that in many areas where these tick-borne diseases are they are increasing in frequency," said Dr. Lyle Petersen, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention director of vector-borne diseases. 

Experts say the best thing you can do is use bug spray and do tick checks after you've been outside. 

Dineo Dowd knows it's so important to get her daughter out to enjoy nature. As a member of the parents group "Hike it Baby Madison", she worries about the risks of running into bugs out on the trails, but she and her family in Sun Prairie won't be deterred.

"We bring sprays and I have a routine. If I have to go on a hike, the day before I will just put a spray in my backpack," she said.

If you do find a tick on you or your pet, be careful removing it.

"Sometimes what will happen is people will rip it off too soon and then the head gets broken off and your skin can get infected so a nice slow steady pull and usually you can get the tick off," said Jason Petrella, program and natural resources coordinator with Brown County Parks in northern Wisconsin. 

Dowd's family always carries tweezers, just in case, and makes sure friends are looking out for each other. 

 "It's always nice to hike with other people, because we check on each other," she told 27 News.

CDC officials say cases of tick-borne diseases are steadily increasing every year, with growing populations of the insect. Plus, illnesses spread by mosquitoes are coming to the US, like West Nile and Zika virus.

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