What Are Lyme Disease Causes And Risk Factors
B. burgdorferi bacteria cause Lyme disease. The bacteria have a complex life cycle, spending part of their life in the deer tick and part in some mammals such as mice and deer.
Humans are not a part of the bacteriums life cycle but can become infected when bitten by the tick. Lyme disease is not contagious and cannot be passed from person to person.
While dogs and cats can get Lyme disease, there are no reported cases of these animals spreading the disease to their owners. However, dogs and cats can bring the infected ticks into the home, which is one reason why tick protection for pets is important. Talk to a veterinarian about the right type of tick control for any pets.
Risk factors for getting Lyme disease include the following:
- Living in the northeastern or Midwestern U.S. states where the disease is most prevalent
- Being outdoors in the woods or areas that have tall grass, shrubs, or brush
- Fishing, camping, hunting, yard work, hiking, and other outdoor activities in tick-infested areas
- Having bare, unprotected skin when outdoors in high-risk areas
- Pets who are not protected against ticks may bring them indoors.
- Not removing attached ticks promptly
- Swollen lymph nodes
- General feeling of being unwell
The initial infection can occur with minimal or no signs or symptoms. But many people experience a flu-like primary illness or a characteristic rash several days to a few weeks following a tick bite. This rash may feel warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful.
Where Are Ticks That Carry Lyme Disease Found
Ticks that carry Lyme disease can be found anywhere their hosts live, in short, anywhere in the world. They prefer moist shady areas. The phrase deer tick, the name commonly used for the species of ticks that carry Lyme disease, is somewhat of a misnomer. Although deer are important as reproductive hosts in the lifecycle of these ticks, other vertebrate animals actually infect the ticks with disease organisms not the deer. These animals include white-footed mice, chipmunks, shrews, several species of ground feeding birds , and many other small mammals. Lyme disease ticks can be found in:
- Tall grass, bushy areas and beach grass
- Areas planted with pachysandra or other ground covers
- Lawn perimeters where they meet forest, woodlot or garden edges
Who Is At Risk In Ohio
Anyone who spends time outdoors can be at risk for Lyme disease. The tick that transmits Lyme disease in Ohio, the blacklegged tick, is most often found in wooded, brushy areas. People who frequent these settings may be at increased risk of contracting Lyme disease.
However, it does not take a hike in the forest to encounter blacklegged ticks. The property around many homes can also provide suitable habitat for ticks, particularly those in yards that are next to woods or brushy areas or those with tall grass or leaf litter. That is why it is important to take the necessary steps to prevent tick bites.
Ohioans of all ages get sick with Lyme disease, but data collected by the Zoonotic Disease Program suggest that males are more at risk for Lyme disease than females. Boys between the ages of ten and 14 years appear to be at particularly high risk. Many cases of Lyme disease are reported in females between the ages of five and nine.
Lyme Disease by Age and Sex, Ohio, 2012-2021
Don’t Miss: How To Test Ticks For Lyme Disease
How Do I Know If Ive Been Bitten By A Tick
Detecting tick bites can be tricky. Unlike the bites of mosquitoes and other insects, tick bites do not tend to cause itching or immediate skin irritation.
Every blood-feeding arthropod and insect introduces saliva into the wound, explains Jonathan Day, PhD, an emeritus professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida. In the case of mosquitoes and some other biting insects, this saliva contains proteins that prevent the bite wound from clotting, which would slow the outflow of blood and therefore disrupt feeding, Dr. Day explains.
Apart from preventing your blood from clotting, these proteins also trigger a reaction from your immune system. This reaction produces redness, swelling, itching, and all the other unpleasant skin irritations that come with bug bites, Day explains.
But tick bites are different. Ticks suppress that reaction with immunosuppressants in their saliva, Ostfeld explains.
Since you cant feel a ticks bite, you can detect it in one of two ways:
What Is Disseminated Lyme Disease
- This is when the bacteria that causes Lyme disease spreads throughout your body.
- This can occur within days to months after the tick bite.
- Symptoms include:
- Multiple erythema migrans rashes.,
- Nervous system involvement .,
- Heart involvement .,
- Connective tissue involvement .,
- Eye involvement .,
Don’t Miss: Reynolds Subaru Old Lyme Connecticut
Lyme Disease In Dogs: Symptoms Treatment Prevention
Lyme Disease is a bacterial illness carried by certain species of ticks. When a dog or a human is bitten by this tick, the culprit of transmission is a spiral-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transferred from the tick to the bloodstream. Since the bacteria is now in the bloodstream, it travels to different parts of the body causing issues with organs, joints, and overall illness.
How do you know your dog has Lyme disease and what where do they get it from?
Also Check: How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Lyme Disease
If I Find An Engorged Tick On My Body Should I Get A Blood Test For Lyme Disease
No. The blood test for Lyme is not useful until two to six weeks after infection develops. It is best to remove the tick and monitor for symptoms. If signs or symptoms of Lyme disease develop see your health care provider to decide whether treatment is necessary. However, the blood tests for Lyme disease are useful and reliable in situations where the symptoms have been present for more than 30 days or it has been over 30 days since the known tick bite.
Recommended Reading: Old Lyme Inn Old Lyme Ct
What Types Of Ticks Transmit Lyme Disease
In the northeast, Mid-Atlantic and north-central states, deer ticks or black-legged ticks are the only ticks known to transmit Lyme disease. On the Pacific coast, the ticks that transmit Lyme disease are the western black-legged tick . Dog ticks and other kinds of ticks are not known to cause Lyme disease.
The most visible sign of Lyme disease is the characteristic rash called erythema migrans or ‘bull’s eye.’ This rash usually develops within one month of the tick bite. It typically occurs at the site of the bite, starting as a red area and then expanding in size over days and weeks.
How Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
In areas where ticks are found, people should know about the risk of Lyme disease and should take precautions to protect themselves. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease so it can be detected and treated promptly. PHAC states that removing ticks within 24 to 36 hours after the tick bite usually prevents infection.
PHAC has also prepared a Lyme disease tool kit which provides material to raise awareness and educate.
Don’t Miss: Severe Cases Of Lyme Disease
Can I Get Lyme Disease By Eating Deer Meat
- Deer are important in the deer tick life-cycle, but deer do not get Lyme disease.
- People cannot get Lyme disease by eating deer meat. However, deer meat should always be properly cooked. Cooking deer meat properly is important to prevent other infections such as E. coli.
- Caution should be taken while hunting and dressing deer, since ticks may travel or fall off the deer and have access to you. Ticks also have access to your yard to lay eggs while dressing or hanging a deer. You can take precaution by using a permethrin treated tarp in your truck during transport of a deer and under a deer hanging in your yard.
Are Some Locations More At Risk Than Others
Yes and no. There are areas in which the bacteria is endemic meaning the disease is established and present more or less continually in that community.
In Canada, blacklegged tick populations have been confirmed or are growing in the following areas:
- Southern British Columbia.
- Southern New Brunswick and Grand Manan Island.
- South shore and northern mainland Nova Scotia.
However, it is important to note that ticks can be spread by birds, in particular songbirds that feed off the forest floor. Because these birds are migratory, there is the potential for new populations of the bacteria to spread across the country. This fact means that you do not have to be in an endemic or high-risk area to be at risk of contacting ticks and the disease.
Recommended Reading: Ways To Get Lyme Disease
How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed
Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose because symptoms are not consistent and may mimic other conditions. The primary symptom is a rash, but it may not be present in up to 20% of cases.
Diagnosis for Lyme disease must be made by a healthcare provider experienced in recognizing Lyme disease. Diagnosis is usually based on symptoms and a history of a tick bite. Testing is generally done to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions. This may need blood and other lab tests.
Research is underway to develop and improve methods for diagnosing Lyme disease.
The symptoms of Lyme disease may look like other medical conditions or problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
What Is The Best Way To Remove A Tick
The best way to remove a tick is with fine tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull with firm, gentle pressure do not jerk or twist. It is important to avoid crushing or squeezing the tick while you are removing it. Do NOT use a match, nail polish, Vaseline, or kerosene to try and smother the tick these methods may cause the tick to actually inject its body fluids into the skin raising the possibility of disease transmission. After tick removal wash your hands and the area of the bite with soap and water.
Read Also: How To Get Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease: Symptoms And Stages
Symptoms of early-stage Lyme disease include:
- muscle and joint aches
- swollen lymph nodes
Another common symptom of Lyme disease is a rash . As many as 80% of infected people may develop a rash, and roughly 20% of the time the rash has a characteristic bull’s-eye appearance.
When left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
Later-stage symptoms may not appear until weeks or months after a tick bite occurs. They include:
- heart-rhythm irregularities
- nervous system abnormalities
Permanent damage to the joints or the nervous system can develop in patients with late Lyme disease. It is rarely, if ever, fatal.
What Are The Complications Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease affects people differently. Relapse and incomplete treatment responses happen. Relapse and incomplete treatment responses happen. Complications of untreated early-stage disease include:
Frequent hospitalizations to manage the disease
Some of these complications result in chronic, debilitating conditions.
Some people may develop post-Lyme disease syndrome . A condition also known as chronic Lyme disease includes PLDS, but also other syndromes. Usually, these are characterized by persistent musculoskeletal and peripheral nerve pain, fatigue, and memory impairment.
You May Like: Over The Counter Lyme Disease Treatment
When To Contact A Doctor
Contact your doctor as soon as possible after youve been bitten by a tick. A doctor can determine if any treatment is necessary, based on the type of tick that bit you.
Different parts of the country have different risks when it comes to diseases from tick bites. If you live in an urban area without many ticks and get bitten elsewhere, your usual doctor may not readily identify the tick. If that is the case and youre uneasy, seek another opinion about treatment.
Let your doctor know if you were bitten in a geographical location known for severe tick-borne diseases, like the Western or Northeastern United States.
You should also let your doctor know if you developed any of the following symptoms after your tick bite:
intense itching in some people due to the toxins and irritants in tick saliva. However, itching doesnt always occur. For this reason, if you spend time in a tick-infested area, its important to check your whole body for ticks after you leave.
If a tick bite leads to Lyme disease, it can also lead to the development of lesions on the skin known as erythema migrans . These often dont trigger any further symptoms, but some people report that they feel itchiness and burning around the area of the lesion.
How Can I Prevent Bites From Ticks And Lyme Disease
You can keep yourself, your loved ones, and your pets from encountering Lyme ticks with a few easy, Be Tick AWARE prevention steps:
- Avoid high-traffic areas known to host ticks that carry Lyme disease like tall grasses and leaf piles
- Wear clothing to protect from ticks and Lyme disease, like long sleeves, pants, and socks
- Apply EPA-approved tick repellent properly
- Remove clothing to protect from ticks and Lyme disease, like long sleeves, pants, and socks
- Examine yourself for ticks daily as the risk of Lyme disease is always there
Learn more about preventing encounters with ticks that carry Lyme disease on our prevention page.
Also Check: How To Heal From Lyme Disease
Treatment Following A Tick Bite
- In some circumstances, a single dose of antibiotic given within 72 hours of a tick bite might prevent the development of Lyme disease. Several criteria must be met:
- The tick must be identified as the blacklegged tick .
- The tick must have been attached for at least 36 hours .
- The tick bite occurred in a highly endemic area
How To Avoid Tick Bites
To reduce the chance of being bitten:
- cover your skin while walking outdoors and tuck your trousers into your socks
- use insect repellent on your clothes and skin products containing DEET are best
- stay on clear paths whenever possible
- wear light-coloured clothing so ticks are easier to see and brush off
Recommended Reading: How To Test For Lyme
Are Deer Ticks The Only Species That Carry Lyme Disease
Technically, ticks do not carry Lyme disease, but they can carry pathogens that cause Lyme disease. And deer ticks are not the only species that are capable of transmitting Lyme disease, though they are known to be the worst offenders.
In fact, studies have shown that up to 90 percent of deer ticks in northeastern states may be infected with Lyme disease. In addition, deer ticks can also transmit other diseases, including Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis.
What Time Of Year Are Ohioans At Risk For Contracting Lyme Disease
In Ohio, cases of Lyme disease are reported in every month of the year. However, the number of reported cases is lowest in the winter, gradually rises in the spring, peaks in the summer, then declines through late summer and autumn.
It can take anywhere from three to 30 days from when the tick bite occurs to when symptoms of Lyme disease appear. Since most cases get sick in July and August, that means most cases are bitten by an infected blacklegged tick between June and July. Therefore, late spring through mid-summer is the time of year when Ohioans are most at risk for contracting Lyme disease.
Lyme Disease by Week of Illness Onset, Ohio, 2012-2021
You May Like: Quality Inn Old Lyme Ct
Do Ticks Die In The Winter
Many people may think that ticks die off in the winter, but that isnt true. Ticks are highly adaptable, and if winter temperatures become too cold for them to thrive, they can simply go dormant. This means they go into a form of hibernation known as diapause.
In some cases, ticks may also attach themselves to a host during the winter, which helps them survive. If a tick does go dormant because it lacks a host or the temperature becomes too cold, they do not require food and can wait out the cold. During their dormancy, ticks hide in burrows, underground, or under leaf litter. When snow falls, it actually acts as an insulator for the dormant ticks, helping them survive through the winter.
The stage of a ticks lifecycle, as well as its species, plays into whether it survives the dormant months. For example, even though ticks tend to require a host within 30 days of their last feed, some adult ticks can live dormant for up to 600 days without feeding. This means that even if a tick is not active, it can still survive the winter months.
How To Get Rid Of American Dog Ticks
In order to avoid being bitten by an American dog tick, apply an insect repellent containing an EPA-registered ingredient, such as DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Also, consider wearing long sleeved shirts and pants, preferably light colored so ticks will be easy to detect, and tuck pants into socks. To get rid of ticks and limit risks indoors, inspect clothing and skin when heading inside. Immediately wash any clothes worn outside.
If you have a bite from an American dog tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp it as close to the skins surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Dont twist or jerk the tick as this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. Once the tick is removed, thoroughly clean the bite site with soap and water. Then, flush the tick down the toilet or wrap it in a tissue before disposing in a closed receptacle. Individuals can take added precaution by saving the tick in a sealed bag to be tested for any potentially harmful bacteria.
Homeowners with outdoor pets and tall grass are at higher risk for coming into contact with American dog ticks. In order to prevent any type of infestation, make sure to keep grass around the home well-trimmed, and inspect pets and people closely after outings. If you suspect a tick problem on the property, contact a licensed pest control professional.
Don’t Miss: How To Diagnose Chronic Lyme Disease