Medical Assistant Students ‘Tick’ Off Hunters

Some hunters got “ticked off’ at Gander Mountain recently. Students in the medical assistant degree program at Globe University-Eau Claire helped educate hunters about the dangers of common tick-borne diseases at a Men’s Health Event at Gander Mountain. The event was intended to meet the needs of men and young hunters. This free event was offered by Sacred Heart Hospital of Eau Claire and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls, Wis.

Those attending this interactive event could receive heart, stroke, and sleep assessments, personal consultations with physicians, hunting safety tips for kids, “know your stats” about prostate cancer, and more.  

The project was a perfect fit for this class of medical assistant students. The students involved all happen to be hunters as well as students! A class discussion brought out the need for educating hunters on tick-borne diseases, so when they learned about Sacred Heart Hospital hosting the Gander Mountain event, they joined the cause. 

Sacred Heart Hospital was pleased to have the Globe University students join them for this event because of the appropriate educational material they wanted to present. Sacred Heart provided “tick pullers” for the students’ display table.

Students created interactive activities for young hunters scouting out their table. The students created coloring pages with information about identifying ticks that carry the more common diseases. They also created a “Stick the Tick in the Target”  game, similar to Pin the Tail on the Donkey, where blindfolded participants placed a tick in the notorious “circular rash” that denotes Lyme disease.

For the adults in the crowd, the students provided handouts detailing what to do if you find an attached tick and signs to look for in the days following the discovery of the attached tick. The students also provided information about tick varieties in Wisconsin and size comparisons of common ticks. 
 Through the project, students and those who attended the event learned that ticks are related to mites and spiders. In Wisconsin, the black legged or deer tick is responsible for Lyme disease. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Lyme disease is the highest reported tick borne illness, but numbers for Ehrlichiosis  and Spotted Fever are on the rise. Ehrlichiosis is a serious illness that can be fatal if not treated correctly.

The students were enthusiastic about this Service-Learning project. Kelly Gusa, one of the student participants, was “surprised by how many people came up to us and said that they had Lyme disease previously in their life.”

She continued,”My hope in doing  this is that we made at least a few people more aware of the danger of tick bites and what they can do if they would ever get bitten by a tick.”   

Jolene Hince agreed that, “many were interested in the kinds of ticks we have around here besides deer ticks. They also looked at the pictures we had. [Participants were] interested in what the ticks look like and their sizes. I think  we helped many people learn about disease that ticks carry!”

Their best overall advice for hunters this season is prevention. Best practices for preventing tick bites include:

  • Bathing or showering as soon as possible after coming indoors
  • Conducting a full-body tick check using a mirror to view all parts of the body  
  • Examining gear and pets that may attach to a person later