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Minnesota tick diseases were down in 2012; bounce back likely this year

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The Minnesota Health Department reports diseases carried by ticks were far less common in 2012 than in other recent years.

But officials think the drop in Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses was likely a product of last year's dry weather. They say our wet spring suggests the numbers will rebound this year.

Last year saw the lowest number of confirmed Lyme disease cases in the state since 2003. Tick-borne disease specialist Dave Neitzel says it's possible the number was down because people are doing a better job of protecting themselves from ticks. But he suspects the dry weather is a more likely explanation.

Not much dry weather this year. And Neitzel says we're just entering the peak time of year for ticks. "Based on what we're seeing, we expect the highest risk period for tick-borne diseases to occur over the next few weeks in Minnesota," Neitzel said.

It's a similar story in Wisconsin, based on what that state's health department told the Kenosha News.

The antibiotic most often used to treat Lyme disease has been in short supply this year. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is among those who have urged the Food and Drug Administration to take steps to relieve the shortage.

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