Ticks And Lyme Disease: What You Need To Know
The warmer weather encourages everyone to get outside and enjoy the sun on their face but there is one creature who is waiting in the wings to greet us and our pets…the tick. Few pests inspire the level of paranoia and anxiety as ticks. They are small, making it difficult to feel them crawling on you and if not discovered quickly they latch onto your skin and suck your blood. Even worse…they also transmit diseases!
Thankfully, there are ways to minimize your contact with these pesky pests and natural repellents to ward them off.
When & Where Ticks Are Most Active
Ticks are found across all of North America and can be active year-round especially in areas with mild winters. However, they are most active in the spring and summer months and often well into the fall as they prefer warm humid temperatures.
Although most common in wooded and tall grassy areas, ticks can also be found in your own backyard as they hitch rides on migrating birds in the spring making their way into city landscapes. However, you can breathe a small sigh of relief knowing that only a few of the 700 known species are found to bite and transmit diseases to humans.
Signs & Symptoms of a Tick Bite
Ticks can carry a host of pathogens that can cause human disease. Lyme disease is the most well-known, however ticks can also carry STARI , Rocky Mountain spotted fever , and more.
Should you be bitten or suspect you have been bitten by a tick, the following are signs and symptoms to watch for.
How To Prevent Ticks
The easiest way to manage tick infestations over large areas consists of proper landscaping techniques to exclude and provide an unsuitable environment for tick survival. Keeping grass mowed, getting rid of all leaf and weed litter, trimming tree branches, and managing pet activity may lead to less interaction with ticks. For serious tick infestations, various insecticidal treatments exist and may be purchased at local hardware stores or retail chains that carry such products. Since ticks carry possibly dangerous bacteria and viruses, anyone entering areas that may contain ticks should aim to protect themselves by wearing proper clothing, keeping shirts buttoned and tucked into pants, and wearing proper footwear. Additionally, some products may remain available for purchase to act as repellents, for both bare skin and clothing.
When infestation becomes a serious issue, home and business owners may want to consult a pest removal specialist.
How To Avoid Getting A Tick Bite
You might be at risk if you live, work in, or visit a wooded area, or an area with tall grasses and bushes .
You may also be at risk if you are involved in outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and gardening.
You may be bitten by a tick and not even know it.
Heres what you can do to avoid getting a tick bite.
Don’t Miss: How Long Does It Take To Get Lyme Disease
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
Lyme Disease Tick Size
The Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, is spread through the bite of infected ticks.The blacklegged tick spreads the disease in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central United States.The western blacklegged tick spreads the disease on the Pacific Coast.Ticks can attach to any part of the human.
Lyme Disease And Ticks What You Need To Know
Tick season brings with it far more than some creepy 8-legged vampires, it brings with it a wave of Lyme disease. An inflammatory disease that can cause headaches, fever, arthritis, neurological disorders and cardiac problems.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria transmitted through tick bites. Infected ticks that are attached for 36 or more hours are capable of transmitting the disease to the host, making it crucial to do regular tick checks.
There is currently no vaccine for Lyme disease, making preventative measures the best way to protect yourself.
How To Remove A Tick
Removing a tick is the same for humans and animals. Its important you do not crush or damage the tick because it could cause Lyme bacteria to pass from the tick into your bloodstream.
How to remove a tick.
Which Areas Are More Likely To Have It
The tick that causes Lyme disease has been moving from the Northeast and upper Midwest into the Southern and Western U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Cases in California and Florida are on the rise. After a drop between 2017 and 2018, the numbers jumped a little bit in 2019.
But most Lyme cases in 2019 were in 15 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New
Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Washington, DC, is also a hotspot.
In 2019, Pennsylvania had the most Lyme infections, with 6,763. New York was next, with 2,847 cases.
In the Southern U.S., where itâs hotter, ticks stay under leaves so they don’t dry out. This means people donât get Lyme from Southern ticks very often because they don’t usually come out to bite.
Even though people only report about 30,000 cases of Lyme infection in the U.S. each year, there are actually around 476,000 a year. The same tick also can spread other diseases, including babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and Powassan virus. Those diseases are also on the rise in the U.S.
Whoâs likeliest to get Lyme disease?
Boys up to age 15 and men between the ages of 40 and 60 are the most likely to get Lyme disease. Thatâs because they tend to play outside and go camping, hunting, and hiking.
Why are there more ticks now than there used to be?
There are several reasons why Lyme is spreading. Some of these are:
Where Do We Find Ticks
Generally, you can find ticks where the animals they feed on live. This usually includes wooded and grassy areas. An adult tick quests for its next blood meal by climbing up grasses and bushes to wait for an animal to pass by. Nymphs and larvae are typically found in layers of decomposing leaves underneath trees. Ticks thrive in damp environments and are less active in hot, dry weather.
You Can Protect Yourself Against Ticks
Know where the critters camp out. Ticks often reside on the foliage that borders meadows. Deer like to graze in the open grassy areas, says Dr. Krause, but also linger in the surrounding wooded outskirts so they can run away if a predator suddenly appears. As for the ticks? Theyre just following the deer. When youre in tick territory, tuck your jeans into your boots or socks, slap on an insecticide , or wear clothing thats been treated with permethrin, an insect repellant. The CDC recommends people use an insect repellant that contains at least 20% DEET. You can treat your clothing with a product like Cutters Backwoods Insect Repellent Pump or find insect-repellent clothing from manufacturers like LL Bean or Rei.
When Should You See A Doctor If You Think You Have Lyme
The rash is a pretty good indication that you may have been bitten. Take a photo of the rash and see your doctor. At this stage, treatment with antibiotics will probably work.
If you don’t have the rash but have symptoms like fatigue, fever, and headache but no respiratory symptoms like a cough, you may want to talk to your doctor.
Flying Under The Radar
Lyme disease only became a national notifiable disease in 2009, so it is often un-diagnosed or misdiagnosed by health professionals.
Dr. Neil Spector says I just dont think we understand chronic Lyme disease, and the only people suffering are the patients. Nothing in medicine is black and white, continuing to outline the major problem surrounding Lyme disease, Theres a significant portion of patients who fall through the cracks of the medical system.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year. In 2013 they adjusted their estimates, stating that the rates were more likely 10 times higher than the number of diagnosed cases. Meaning that there are roughly 3 million cases of Lyme disease in America each year.
As we get a better understanding of Lyme disease and become more able to properly diagnose it, the true scope of the issue will be revealed.
Lyme Disease Doesn’t Go Away In All Cases Even With Treatment
The CDCs criteria for Lyme disease were established to make it easy for state departments to report cases back to the agency, Makous said. But she says the criteria are too narrow, and don’t include an accurate representation of cases that persist, known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. The CDC says this affects 10 to 20 percent of Lyme disease patients. Symptoms include extended fatigue, pain, and joint and muscle aches, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases .
How Does A Person Get Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected deer tick, which also is known as the black-legged tick. Immature deer ticks can be very small, about the size of the head of a pin adult deer ticks are slightly larger. Both can be infected with and transmit Lyme disease. Deer ticks acquire the bacteria by feeding primarily on small mammals infected with the bacteria, particularly the white-footed mouse. Deer ticks infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease have been found in Illinois. Areas in the United States where deer ticks are most frequently infected with Lyme disease are the northeastern United States , northern California, and north central states, especially Minnesota and Wisconsin. However, Lyme disease has been reported in almost all states in the United States as well as in many countries throughout the world.
Image source: /content/dam/soi/en/web/idph/files/pictures/babesiosis.jpg
Ticks: Everything You Should Know
We get it: No one wants to think about ticks. Theyre creepy, gross-looking, and spread diseases. Well, thats exactly why you should start paying attention to them.
In the United States, ticks are responsible for spreading potentially-life threatening infectious diseases, some of which can trigger not just chills, nausea, and a fever, but also neurological problems and even death. The most infamous of these infections is Lyme diseaseaccording the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, its the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States. And while the rates have steadily increased since the 1990s, thousands of Lyme disease cases may go unreported.
So when it comes to ticks, ignorance is the opposite of bliss. Start reading up on what ticks look like, where they camp out, and what to do if one latches onto you. Developing an action plan now can potentially save you from a lot of suffering in the future.
Ten Facts About Lyme Disease
How Can You Protect Your Dog From Lyme Disease
It takes an average of 36 hours of feeding for the tick to transmit the disease. So if youre going to be walking with your dog in a grassy area that is a known habitat for ticks, make sure you do a thorough check of your dog and yourself after your hike. Heres a checklist:
- Vaccinate your dog against ticks.
- Equip yourself with a tick removal kit and carry it with you.
- Try to stick to woodland paths and park walkways.
- Avoiding tall grass and bushes.
- Wear long pants and long sleeves, preferably light clothing.
- Take a flea comb to your dog after your walk and check for ticks.
- Check yourself for ticks and bites displaying the typical red bulls eye.
- Use an insect repellent designed for ticks on yourself.
- Use lemon or lavender essential oil on your dog before your walk.
If you follow these tips, you and your dog can still enjoy the great outdoors.
The good news is, according to some experts, if youre careful and check for ticks, your chances of contracting Lyme Disease is only 1.2 to 1.4 per cent.
How Is Lyme Disease Treated
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
How old you are
Lyme disease in the earliest stage is usually treated with antibiotics for 2 to 3 weeks.
Treatment will also be considered based on these and other factors:
If you are bitten by a tick that tests positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease
If you are bitten by a tick and have any of the symptoms
If you are bitten by a tick and are pregnant
If you are bitten by a tick and live in a high-risk area
Most Cases Of Lyme Disease Can Be Treated And Cured With Antibiotics
Marina Makous, MD, a former assistant professor of psychiatry and family medicine at Columbia Universitys Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center in New York City, says antibiotics are effective for most cases of early Lyme disease if started in time, and the earlier the better. Its best if theyre started within the first two weeks, Dr. Makous says. But that can be difficult because tests wont pick up on Lyme disease that early. Antibiotics your doctor may prescribe include doxycycline and amoxicillin.
Key Points For Healthcare Providers
How Is It Treated
Facial palsy is treated with oral antibiotics and Lyme meningitis/radiculoneuritis can either be treated with oral or intravenous antibiotics, depending on severity . Most people with Lyme disease respond well to antibiotics and fully recover. Varying degrees of permanent nervous system damage may develop in people who do not receive treatment in the early stages of illness and who develop late-stage Lyme disease.
What Happens At Your Appointment
The GP will ask about your symptoms and consider any rash or recent tick bites you know about.
Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose. It has similar symptoms to other conditions and there’s not always an obvious rash.
2 types of blood test are available to help confirm or rule out Lyme disease. But these tests are not always accurate in the early stages of the disease.
You may need to be retested if you still have Lyme disease symptoms after a negative result.
What Should You Do If You Find A Tick
Don’t touch the tick with your bare hand.
Use a pair of tweezers to remove the tick. Grab the tick firmly by its mouth or head as close to your skin as possible.
Pull up slowly and steadily without twisting until it lets go. Don’t squeeze the tick, and don’t use petroleum jelly, solvents, knives, or a lit match to kill the tick.
Save the tick. Place it in a plastic container or bag so it can be tested for disease, if needed.
Wash the bite area well with soap and water and put an antiseptic lotion or cream on the site.