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Rare tick returns to Wisconsin: Its bite could make you allergic to meat; what else to know

Rare tick returns to Wisconsin: Its bite could make you allergic to meat; what else to know
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Rare tick returns to Wisconsin: Its bite could make you allergic to meat; what else to know

MADISON, Wis. - A type of tick that is uncommon in this part of the country has been spotted in northern Wisconsin, near Eau Claire County, marking the return of the bug to the state. 

According to professor Susan Paskewitz, chair of the Entomology Department at University of Wisconsin-Madison, the lone star tick is not indigenous to Wisconsin. Rather, the bug will hitch a ride up north each year by attaching itself to a bird or another animal. 

Paskewitz said June and July are the most common months for tick bites. It's also the months most common for lone star ticks to be found in Wisconsin. In years past, they have been seen primarily in southern Wisconsin, including in Dane and Rock counties. 

"This is the time of year when people are out and very active and very likely to encounter ticks in our state," she said. 

According to Paskewitz, the lone star tick is unique because of a distinct white spot on the body of female ticks. Despite this, she said it can still difficult to tell if you've been bitten by one. 

"You don’t necessarily have any warning that you’re dealing with a tick that’s getting ready to crawl onto your body and attach," she said. 

Side effects of Lone Star tick bites can include discoloration, redness, hives or other skin irritations. Some people, however, can develop an allergy to certain types of red meat after being bitten by the tick. 

"There’s been some cases of people who have been bitten by lone star ticks, then for a long time, or potentially a short time, whenever they have beef, they can have life threatening reactions, sometimes shock,"  Paskewitz said. 

She said the best way to avoid being bitten by a tick is to use proper insect repellent and cover as much skin as possible if hiking or camping. 

Paskewitz said anyone who comes in contact with a lone star tick is encouraged to report it on the UW-Madison Entomology site

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