According to the Minnesota Department of Health, there were 1,023 recorded cases of Lyme Disease in Minnesota in 2004. This number is more than double the 473 cases reported in 2003. The increase could be the result of mild winters that have allowed the deer and field mice that the deer ticks feed on to survive the winters in greater numbers.
Lyme disease is a potentially serious bacterial infection that can result in flu like symptoms and if untreated can lead to arthritis, nervous system problems and persistent fatigue. Antibiotic treatment is effective, especially if treatment is begun during the early stages.
The disease is spread when an infected deer tick attaches itself to a person. Not all deer ticks are infected with the bacteria, so not all deer ticks will transmit the disease. In order for the infection to be transferred from an infected deer tick to a person, the tick needs to be attached for at least 24 hours.
To protect yourself from contracting Lyme disease you should avoid tick habitats, if possible. If avoiding tick habitats is not possible, use a tick repellent containing DEET and wear light-colored clothes so you can more easily spot a deer tick on you. Check for ticks after being in their habitats and if you find a tick on you, remove it as soon as possible.