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Lyme disease, a look at the numbers and legislative action

WAUSAU, Wis. — The Wisconsin Senate approved a package of bills to combat Lyme disease on Tuesday, as numbers remain high in the state.

The average number of Lyme disease cases in Wisconsin has more than doubled during the past decade. According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Wisconsin had the fourth-highest number of confirmed cases among all 50 states in 2017, at 1,794 incidents. In 2018 the number dropped slightly, but remained higher than 1,000, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health.

The bills would require the state Department of Natural Resources to post Lyme disease warnings on state land and sell insect repellent at state parks and forests. The DNR would also have to include information on Lyme disease in state park brochures and run an annual Lyme disease public awareness campaign.

In the meantime, a new research and treatment center opened in the northwoods to address tick-borne illnesses. The program director, Connie Campbell, said the center opened in September and already has a wait list of 150 people. She added that education and prevention are crucial in addressing Lyme disease.

The measures also would create a tick-borne disease study committee.

The Senate approved all the bills with no debate Tuesday. They go next to the state Assembly.

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Tom Lally

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