Touched By Lyme: What Only 7 Cases Of Lyme In Massachusetts
Advocates have objected for years to how severely the CDC undercounts Lyme disease cases.
LymeDisease.orgs Lorraine Johnson took a deep dive into this issue in a blog earlier this year. Basically, she points out, in states the CDC considers low-incidence, only 1 in 50 Lyme cases is counted. While in high-incidence states, 1 in 7 is counted.
Which brings us to the strange case of Massachusetts, traditionally considered a high-incidence state. According to the CDC website, the Bay State clocked thousands of Lyme cases every year. Until suddenly, it didnt.
Abruptly, in 2016, there were only 146 cases. In 2017, there were 321. In 2018, the number dwindled to 13. And in 2019, the most recent figures available, there were six confirmed cases in Massachusetts, along with one probable case, for a total of seven. In the whole dang state.
Does this mean that fewer people in Massachusetts are contracting Lyme disease? Not at all. It merely reflects the fact that the state has changed the way it tracks Lyme disease cases. Ergo, the CDC throws out the Massachusetts numbers. Disregards them. Pretends they dont exist.
Cape Cod Times reporter Cynthia McCormick looked into this troubling development in an article published last week.
Although the coronavirus pandemic has put a lot of pressure on local, state, and federal health officials, it cant be blamed for a surveillance system that has been problematic for years.
Let me tell you, it is, Dapsis said.
Top 5 Lyme Disease Misconceptions
1. While the ticks that carry Lyme disease are commonly referred to as Lyme ticks or deer ticks, the appropriate scientific name for this tick is the black-legged tick.
2. The conventional wisdom holds that the best way to tell the difference between a black-legged tick and a common dog tick is that the black-legged tick is tiny, about the size of a poppy seed, while dog ticks are considerably larger. While its true that black-legged tick nymphs are poppy-seed-sized, the adult black-legged ticks can be just as large as their dog tick counterparts. Black-legged ticks can carry Lyme disease in both their nymphal and adult forms, so tick size has no bearing on risk.
3. There are several old-time remedies that suggest the way to deal with ticks is to burn them off or rub them out with peanut butter or petroleum jelly. This is bunk advice. The best way to remove a tick is to use tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as you can and pull directly back.
4. While the bulls-eye rash is a sure-fire indication of Lyme infection, sometimes the Lyme rash may be more pedestrian-looking. Tick bites in body crevices may not develop a distinctive bulls-eye. And, to complicate things further, according to the Center for Disease Control, 20-30 percent of people infected with the disease never saw a rash.
Dave Mance III is the editor of Northern Woodlands magazine.
Tick Bite And Lyme Disease Testing
In Massachusetts we share our beautiful environment with some not so friendly insects and ticks seem to be the most common ones that we see at our clinic. Tick bites can cause infections often taking weeks of recovery time so it is best to be cautious when outdoors. Ticks can also be a nuisance to even household pets such as cats and dogs. Luckily, in most cases a tick bite is not a medical emergency requiring a visit to the ER. Tick bites and associated rashes can cause a lot of stress and anxiety and that is why our urgent care clinic is open late to ensure that you can get tested and treated immediately if you get bitten.
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Stopping The Saliva Preventing The Disease
Researchers explain that the black-legged tick species Ixodes scapularis transmits the Lyme disease pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi. This disease contains several proteins and the team focused their research on 19 different types.
Working with the University of Pennsylvania, they analyzed pieces of mRNA which produce all 19 of these tick saliva proteins. Scientists who created the COVID-19 vaccine used the same strategy to develop a formula that protects against the SARS-Cov-2 virus.
Using guinea pigs, the team discovered that vaccinated animals quickly developed redness at the bite site after encountering a disease-carrying tick. As long as researchers removed the ticks right after the redness started, none of the guinea pigs developed Lyme disease. Conversely, around half of the unvaccinated group of guinea pigs were infected with B. burgdorferi bacteria despite researchers removing the ticks.
Interestingly, the vaccine successfully protected immunized guinea pigs from a single tick bite, even if researchers left the tick on the animals skin. On the other hand, a single tick bite led to Lyme disease in 60 percent of the unvaccinated guinea pigs. The vaccine also prevented ticks from feeding aggressively on their hosts and caused them to dislodge from their skin quicker.
The vaccine does have its limits. Results show protection against Lyme disease dropped off when leaving three ticks attached to the vaccinated guinea pigs.
Researchers Find New Bacterium
Patients who test negative for Lyme disease after a suspected tick bite could be suffering from a recently identified illness also spread by deer ticks, a team led by Massachusetts researchers reported Monday.
The paper describes two patients, one in Massachusetts and one in New Jersey, who were initially suspected of having another tick-borne disease but were instead found to have the new infection.
The new infection, caused by the bacterium Borrelia miyamotoi, is the fifth human disease known to be spread by blood-sucking deer ticks, which transmit disease largely in the spring and summer.
The big message is everyone who gets tested for Lyme disease should get for all five, said Sam R. Telford III, a professor at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine who studies tick-borne diseases and is one of the authors.
Telford said there are many unknowns about the disease, which he is calling b. miyamotoi disease, or BMD, including whether it can be a chronic infection. In all reported cases thus far, patients made a full recovery after being treated with antibiotics. The illness causes severe flu-like symptoms, and in at least one previously reported case in an elderly woman, caused confusion, weight loss, hearing problems, and a wobbly gait.
Both patients blood was sent to Imugen Inc., a Norwood research and diagnostic lab that conducts testing for tick-borne diseases. It did not show anaplasmosis.
Beth Daley can be reached at . Follow her .
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What Should I Do If I Am Bitten By A Tick
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
- We recommend sending the tick to be tested by the Laboratory of Medical Zoology at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. The report they provide is a valuable tool that can help you make informed decisions concerning your medical care. More information is available at www.tickreport.com
- Contact your medical provider.
Tick Identification And Testing Locations
The following organizations, listed alphabetically, do offer tick identification and/or testing services for a fee.The listing of these organizations does not constitute an endorsement by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health of the organization, or information, products, or services provided, and none should be inferred. This list is provided as a guide to tick identification and/or testing services available for Massachusetts’ residents.This list may not be comprehensive and the contact and price information may change at any time. The information was up-to-date as of Any questions people have about situations that may affect their health should be directed to their health care provider.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
Early stage : The most common early symptom is a rash where the tick was attached. It often, but not always, starts as a small red area that spreads outward, clearing up in the center so it looks like a donut. Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, stiff neck, sore and aching muscles and joints, fatigue and swollen glands may also occur. Even though these symptoms may go away by themselves, without medical treatment, some people will get the rash again in other places on their bodies, and many will experience more serious problems. Treatment during the early stage prevents later, more serious problems.
Later stages : If untreated, people with Lyme disease can develop late-stage symptoms even if they never had a rash. The joints, nervous system and heart are most commonly affected.
- About 60% of people with untreated Lyme disease get arthritis in their knees, elbows and/or wrists. The arthritis can move from joint to joint and become chronic.
- Many people who dont get treatment develop nervous system problems. These problems include meningitis , facial weakness or other problems with nerves of the head, and weakness or pain in the hands, arms, feet and/or legs. These symptoms can last for months, often shifting between mild and severe.
- The heart also can be affected in Lyme disease, with slowing down of the heart rate and fainting. The effect on the heart can be early or late.
How Safe Is Permethrin
Permethrin is a chemical in the pyrethroid family which is frequently used to control insects both as an insect repellent and as a broad-spectrum insecticide in fact, it is commonly used to treat head lice in children. Pyrethroids are synthetic esters derived from the naturally-occurring pyrethrin compounds that may be extracted from certain chrysanthemum flowers.
Here are some quick facts:
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What Can I Do To Lower My Chances Of Getting Lyme Disease Or Any Other Disease From Ticks
Prevention begins with you! Take steps to reduce your chances of being bitten by any tick. Ticks are most active during warm weather, generally late spring through fall. However, ticks can be out any time that temperatures are above freezing. Ticks cling to vegetation and are most numerous in brushy, wooded or grassy habitats. When you are outside in an area likely to have ticks , follow these simple steps to protect yourself and your loved ones:
Burlington Tick Bite And Lyme At Afc Urgent Care
Lyme disease and tick bites become a significant health risk for Massachusetts residents during the summer. But the good news for patients is that AFC Urgent Care Burlington provides comprehensive Lyme and tick bite treatment for patients 1 year or older.
Whenever you are outside during the summer youll want to actively prevent tick bite risks and screen for Lyme to double-check. Below is a breakdown of prevention and symptoms related to Lyme disease.
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Lyme Disease Vaccine Provides Promising Protection Against Harmful Tick Bites
A tick of the kind that transports Lyme Disease from animals to humans.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. A vaccine for Lyme disease may soon provide groundbreaking protection against the tick-borne illness. Researchers from Yale University say the new formula is very similar to the vaccine for COVID-19 and successfully defended guinea pigs bitten by a Lyme-carrying tick.
Instead of causing the immune system to spring into action to fight Lyme disease, the vaccine actually attacks the root of the problem the ticks saliva. Study authors say the new vaccine immediately creates a response in the bite victims skin, limiting the amount of time a tick has to feed and infect the host. This vaccine also uses the same mRNA technology the COVID vaccines use to protect patients.
More Tick News You Can Use
The amount of ticks is reasonably steady, neither increasing or decreasing since 2018. However, precipitation patterns with increased humidity increase your risk since ticks are moisture-seeking.
Asian Long-Horned Tick
The Asian long-horned tick not normally found in the Western Hemisphere, was reported for the first time in the United States in 2017. As of March, 2019, they have been reported in NJ, VA, PA MD, NY and now CT. We are waiting for appearance of Asian long-horned in Massachusetts.They pose a special problem for livestock. If you purchase llamas, foals, goats, cows or other animals from out of state, check them immediately for this tick, whose color is red-rusty brown. If you find one, have it identified. Females can produce eggs without mating, therefore, thousands of ticks may be found at a time on one animal. In other countries, bites from these ticks have made people and animals seriously ill. If your animal has been found with them, work with a veterinarian to treat it.
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Get A Compelling Long Read And Must
Sam Telford has spent his entire professional career focused on stamping out ticks and the diseases they transmit to humans. / Photo by Matt Kalinowski
Its a bright Thursday afternoon, and Sam Telford is rummaging through the back of his white Chevy Silverado pickup truck. Slapped on the tailgate are a pair of bumper stickers: The first asks the age-old question Got Ticks? and the other reads I Brake for Roadkill. When I ask if the second one is true, Telford raises his dark eyebrows over his glasses and assures me that his bumper doesnt lie. I cut their heads off and take their brains, he says.
Fortunately, decapitating roadkill isnt on todays to-do list. Telford, whos sporting khakis, a brown pair of wellies, and a quilted blue jacket, has agreed, however, to take me on a walk through the woods near his North Grafton office to see if we can capture some ticks. The weather conditions are far from ideallow 40s, windy, snow still lingering on the groundbut as Stephen Rich, a UMass Amherst microbiology professor, told me, Sam could find a tick in a blizzard. We shall see.
And with that, we make our way toward the trees.
In the aftermath, numerous and extensive follow-up studies by the FDA never corroborated any of the safety risks that were alleged in the lawsuitbut it didnt matter. Clouded by controversy, sales of the vaccine sputtered out of the gate and SmithKline Beecham yanked it from the market.
Is this year going to be bad for ticks? I asked.
Save That Tick It Can Be Tested For Lyme Disease
By Chris Williams on February 22, 2013.
Just because its almost winter, dont think that youre safe from deer ticks and the diseases that they transmit. In fall, the most common stage seen is the adult tick which remains active all winter, seeking blood from deer . Deer ticks dont hibernate they are not killed by frost or cold. Deer ticks remain active all winter unless they are covered by snow. This is not good news since the deer tick is the tick that transmits the three most common diseases in our Northeast region: Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis. The University of Massachusetts Extension Service may be able to offer some peace of mind if you, or a loved one, have been bitten by a tick. In cooperation with the University of Massachusetts Laboratory for Medical Zoology, the Extension Service operates a diagnostic lab that will identify a tick specimen and tell you whether or not that tick that you pulled off is a deer tick . The lab can also determine whether or not the tick carried Lyme disease, and can test for several other diseases as well. About 30% of the ticks tested at the lab carry the pathogen for Lyme disease. In addition, about 10% carry the bacterium that transmits anaplasmosis , and 5% carry the organism for babesiosis.
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So Will The Vaccine Work On Humans
The Yale team cautions that this vaccine is not a finished product and they need to conduct more tests to see if it will protect people.
Similar experiments using mice revealed that the vaccine did not lead to tick infection resistance. Study authors believe part of this is due to guinea pig and human skin having more layers than mice. Ticks may have also evolved new ways of feeding off of mice, who scientists say are a natural host of I. scapularis ticks.
The study appears in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
What Can I Do To Protect Myself
Whenever you are spending time outdoors, especially in areas that are known tick habitats, be sure to adhere to the following tips:
- Stay on the trail. Wandering off into the underbrush or leaf litter will increase your chances of exposure to a tick.
- Wear shoes, not sandals. Nymph stage deer ticks are the size of poppy seeds, and the larvae are even smaller they can certainly get into sandals, and even through the fibers of some socks, so wearing treated clothing is important. Also, tucking your pant legs into your socks when hiking will minimize the amount of exposed skin.
- Treat yourself and your clothing with a recommended repellent: DEET on exposed skin, and permethrin for your clothing and footwear.
- After outdoor activities, do a tick check! Check yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks. Place your clothing in the dryer for 20 minutes to kill any ticks you may have missed.
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Magnitude Of The Problem
In 2009, there were 29,959 confirmed and 8,509 probable cases of Lyme disease reported to the CDC . That the same year, Massachusetts alone had 4,028 confirmed and 1,237 probable cases . The annual number of confirmed cases has been rising steadily over the past 15 years, as the graph below illustrates.
The incidence of Lyme disease is associated with the density of infected tick vectors. Most cases in the US have been reported in the northeast, the western states, and the upper midwest, but nearly all states have reported Lyme disease cases. The map below is from the CDC and is based on 2009 data. The Massachusetts map shows Lyme disease incidence rates per 100,000 by town in 2005. Darker shading indicates higher incidence. Lyme disease is considered endemic in the entire state of Massachusetts. Areas of highest incidence include Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts, the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, areas north of Boston in Essex county, towns along the upper Middlesex and Worcester county border, along the Quabbin Reservoir watershed, and in southern Berkshire county.
In Massachusetts, the highest risk of exposure to nymphs occurs during the spring and early summer, and the highest risk of exposure to adult ticks occurs during late summer into fall. Most cases have their onset between April and October, when the risk of contact with infected nymphal ticks is greatest.