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Fast Facts: A Look at Lyme Disease

Summertime in Wisconsin calls for hot, sunny days by the lake, camping and many other fun outdoor activities that make life in the badger state so unique. With summer, however, come bugs and insects associated with warm weather. One particular insect, the tick, can carry a small, yet very dangerous bacterium which causes Lyme disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease found within the U.S. The agency estimates that close to half-a-million people get Lyme disease each year.
 
Wisconsin Hospital Association Information Center (WHAIC) claims data show that in 2020, there were 3,200 reported cases of Lyme disease. This number often is very underreported because of misdiagnosis, diagnostic errors or lack of data.
 
According to WHAIC data, many of the hospitalizations for Lyme disease occurred in northwest Wisconsin. Barron County, Chippewa County, Dunn County and Eau Claire County have the highest rates in area. The zip code with the largest number of visits for Lyme disease—82—is located in Menomonie in Dunn County. The data also showed the average age of Lyme disease patients was 52.
 


Given the potential seriousness of Lyme disease, it is important to recognize its signs and symptoms. Early symptoms (3-30 days after infection) include fever, chills, headache, muscle and joint aches and rash. One of the more commonly known symptoms of the disease is a rash accompanying the bite. There are two main types of rashes: the “bull’s eye” rash or a large rash patch over the bite site.