Health officials: Ticks don’t hibernate in winter, protection still needed

Female Black-Legged Tick (Photo:Lennart Tange / CC BY-SA 2.0)
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Ticks that bite people can come out on warm winter days, and health officials say protection is still needed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminded people on Thursday that tick exposure is year round. They suggest using insect repellents, do tick checks, and take showers after being outside.

Health officials say ticks can be active on winter days when the ground temperatures are above 45 degrees. Most ticks are active during warmer months, April through September.

According to researchers at UW Madison, there are several types of ticks in Wisconsin. They include:


  • American Dog Tick
  • Black-Legged Tick (known as deer ticks)
  • Brown Dog Tick
  • Lone Star Tick

Diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be caused by some ticks. Dr. Greg Gauthier, a UW Health infectious disease specialist, said finding a tick on the skin does not necessarily mean someone will acquire a disease.

“Ticks must be attached for a certain number of hours to transmit disease,” said Gauthier. “For transmission of Lyme disease, the tick would need to be attached for at least 36-48 hours. Anaplasmosis can be transmitted in less than 48 hours.”

If you find a tick, the Tick App, will allow people to participate in a tick exposure study done in partnership with UW-Madison. It is only available for iOS devices, and information can be found here