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Amid the new virus, don’t forget about an old foe in region

With the focus this spring on the coronavirus, it’s easy to forget about the usual health threat that resurfaces in the region this season: Ticks.

Michigan has several kinds of ticks that bite people and pets, some of which can carry harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites. Not all tick bites cause infection, but tick-borne diseases do occur in Dickinson and Iron counties and can be serious if not treated, the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department warns.

Knowing what kind of tick made the bite may be important in determining the risk of disease and can help your physician decide how to treat the illness.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provides tick identification at no charge to Michigan residents. There are two ways to have a tick identified, by submitting a photo or by sending the tick to the MDHHS for microscopic identification.

The MDHHS will make all attempts to identify a tick by photo, based on the condition of the tick and the condition of the photos. Go to www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases for additional information on submitting ticks for photo identification.

However, definitive tick identification can only be done by sending the tick for microscopic examination. In the past, MDHHS also could test ticks for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, but this service no longer is available.

The Dickinson-Iron District Health Department will assist with sending the tick to MDHHS. Ticks can be submitted from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday to the Health Department’s Environmental Health Division, 818 Pyle Drive in Kingsford or 601 Washington Ave. in Iron River. There is no cost to this service. For more information, call 906-779-7239.

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