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Summer 2009

Last summer, Susan Paskewitz made an astonishing discovery after walking her dog in her Madison neighborhood: a deer tick crawling up her dog’s hind leg. While most Wisconsinites associate ticks with summer trips to the Northwoods, the parasites have been moving slowly southward and eastward, and Paskewitz has more than her dog to prove it. The entomology professor recently completed a tick “census” by gathering ticks from deer killed in various part of the state. Comparing the results to a similar study done in 1994, she concluded that “pretty much everywhere in Wisconsin is infested now.” As a result of the survey, the state’s tick-awareness campaign is being expanded, and doctors in newly infested counties are being warned to watch for symptoms of Lyme disease. Paskewitz says even city dwellers in places like Madison and Milwaukee should take care, especially if they frequent natural areas or live on wooded lots where deer roam. “In Wisconsin, people sort of feel like they already know this story, but one thing this (survey) points out is that it’s not a static situation,” she says. “What your risk was 20 years ago may not be what your risk is today, so you should not be blase if you get a tick on you.”

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