Lyme Disease Data and Resources for Health Departments

Over time, Wisconsin’s become warmer and
wetter. Warmer weather leads to earlier tick activity in the season. It also
increases the chance of Lyme disease here in the state. Lyme disease is spread
through the bite of an infected black- legged tick, also known as a deer tick. In
Wisconsin, we have cases of Lyme disease reported in every month of the year, but
the number of cases is highest between the months of May and October. Early
symptoms of Lyme disease can include a fever, headache, fatigue, and sometimes the
characteristic bull’s-eye rash. But that bull’s-eye rash only occurs in about 70%
of cases. Patients treated promptly with appropriate antibiotics usually recover
quickly and completely. Local health departments are responsible for doing a
lot of the case investigation that we use at the state level to get an idea of
Lyme disease activity. They, in turn, look to us for guidance on best prevention
strategies and treatment strategies, so it’s a very strong partnership. Lyme
disease is a reportable condition in Wisconsin, meaning that when health care providers find clinical evidence of Lyme disease in a patient, they have to send a
report to the health department. Every Lyme disease report is used to
strengthen county data and to paint a better picture of Lyme disease statewide.
The Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking Program hosts data on
lots of different environmental health topics, including Lyme disease. So the
Lyme disease data that we receive are your data; they’ve come from your
community and we pull them into our data portal. The portal is free to use and
anyone can access it. Anyone can pull up data for their county, and they can look
at data over time or can see how they compare to other counties in the state.
In the past we might have to look at these data in a spreadsheet, but that
doesn’t help us too much to be able to visualize and interpret the data. Having
them in this visual medium where we can look at maps and charts and everything’s
together in this portal, it just makes it easier than ever to use and access.
After reviewing the data, they can get a good feel for what Lyme disease has been like in their county over the past few years. And then the data portal contains a
link to the climate and health programs vector-borne disease toolkit. That
toolkit contains different strategies and message maps the local health
departments can use to get out the word about Lyme disease and help people
protect themselves. Wisconsin health care providers and
local health departments work hard to collect the highest quality data on as
many Lyme disease cases as possible. One way that communities can improve
their Lyme disease data is to educate everyone from citizens to health care
providers on Lyme disease risk, symptoms, and diagnosis. To stay up to date on the
latest information about Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases occurring
in Wisconsin, please visit our website.

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