Monday, October 2, 2023

Ticks In Maine That Carry Lyme Disease

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Can I Get Lyme Disease By Eating Deer Meat

Tick activity on the rise this fall
  • 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.

What Do Deer Ticks Look Like

Deer ticks are parasitic pests that feed on the blood of their hosts. Before feeding adult female deer ticks are about 1/8 of an inch in length. Males are smaller than the females at about 1/6th of an inch in length. Before feeding deer ticks are oval in shape and are an orange-brown color and their legs are dark brown. After having a blood meal deer ticks will increase in size and turn a more rust brown color. These ticks have sharp mouthparts that they use to pierce the skin of their host. The mouthparts can be seen when the tick is viewed from above.

Are Ticks Changing Our Relationship To The Outdoors

Even when theyre not on our bodies, they’re getting under our skin: how a burgeoning awareness of tick-borne illness is altering Mainers’ attitudes about the landscape around them.

One day last summer, I opened my email to find a press release from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, notifying media outlets that two adults in midcoast Maine had been hospitalized with Powassan encephalitis, a swelling of the brain caused by a viral infection transmitted by tick bite. Both patients had been treated and released, but I recognized the phrase Powassan virus from the widely reported death of Maine artist Lyn Snow four years earlier. In November 2013, Snow had shown up, seemingly healthy, at the midcoasts Pen Bay Medical Center, asking for help removing a stubborn tick. Days later, she fell into a delirium that never lifted, and she died in December, hooked up to a ventilator at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

A funny thing happened in the weeks that followed specifically, in the four weeks that the CDC webpage told me it might take for Powassan symptoms to manifest: I worried about it, watching my son for signs of fever, tiredness, or loss of coordination. Even though periodic tick bites are a fact of life for our family, and even though I know perfectly well that the odds of contracting Powassan are on par with those of being struck by a meteor, I fretted mildly about encephalitis and brain damage until deep into the summer.

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How Do Deer Ticks Spread

Deer ticks cannot fly or jump so they move from place to place on the bodies of their blood meal host that they are attached to. After a deer tick feeds on its host for several days they become engorged and fall off. Then they hide in tall grasses and areas of thick vegetation until a new host happens by and brushes up against them and they climb aboard and attach themselves to the new host and begin the cycle over again.

How Do You Safely Remove A Tick

Update on ticks in Maine (and how much I still hate them)

Remove attached ticks quickly and correctly using the following instructions:

Use fine-tipped tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.6

Pull upward with a steady and even amount of pressure.6

After the tick has been removed, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands using warm soap and water.6

Dispose of a live tick by submerging it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, or flushing it down the toilet.6

If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor immediately.

Lyme disease is a serious and prevalent disease in the state of Maine. Please take care to thoroughly check yourself and your loved ones for ticks after spending time outside, particularly during the summer months.

  • âTransmission.â Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 Mar. 2015, Available here.
  • United States, Congress, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. âLyme Disease Data.â Lyme Disease Data, Maine Tracking Network. Available here.
  • â2016 Lyme Disease Data Published.â 2016 Lyme Disease Data Published | Maine Tracking Network – Environmental Public Health, Available here.
  • âLDALyme Literacy.â Lyme Disease Association | Lyme Treatment Guidelines | Dr. Referrals | Funding & Research, Patricia Smith, 10 Feb. 2017, Available here.
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    The Brown Dog Tick Is Considered The Most Widespread Tick Species In Maine

    But luckily, it doesnt typically bite humans. However, when they do, they have been known to transmit the bacterium that causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, a severe tick-borne illness with a mortality rate of over 20% if not treated early. Symptoms include high fever, chills, muscle aches, headaches, and sometimes a rash. For transmission to occur, however, the tick must be attached for at least six hours.

    Brown Dog Ticks can also transmit diseases to dogs, such as Canine Ehrlichiosis or Canine Babesiosis. So if you see odd symptoms after finding a tick on your dog, make sure to get it to a veterinarian.

    So How Can We Prevent Ticks From Giving Us These Diseases

    Tick Checks.

  • A tick must be feeding on you for at least 24 hours before the Lyme disease bacteria can travel into your body.
  • This gives us time to remove the tick before we get Lyme disease.
  • We dont yet know how long it takes for the other tick-borne diseases to be transmitted to humans after being bitten it could be right away. For this reason, we want to do everything we can to make sure that ticks dont bite us in the first place.
  • Take precautions when outdoors.

  • Wear long pants and long sleeves that cover all exposed skin areas.

  • Wear light-colored clothing. Ticks are dark in color, so wearing light-colored clothing will make it easier for you to see and remove them right away.

  • Pull long socks up over the bottom of your pants and tuck your shirt in to your pants. Heres another little-known fact about ticks: Ticks only crawl upward. If you are walking through the grass or the woods and a tick attaches to your shoe or your sock, this will keep it from going under your clothes where you might miss seeing it.

  • Wear tick repellent. Make sure your bug spray repels ticks and mosquitoes. Lemon eucalyptus oil is a more natural option for repelling ticks.

  • Treat your pets for ticks, so that they dont carry them inside your home.

  • Do tick checks every day! If you have young children or pets, make sure you check them also.

  • Discourage ticks from living around your home.

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    Studying The Gut Bacteria Of Bugs

    Couret started thinking about the impact of bacteria on insects while earning her Ph.D. in the ecology of infectious diseases at Emory University in Atlanta. While there, she studied West Nile virus and how its transmitted to humans from mosquitoes, but it was another insect, the kudzu bug, that captured her attention.

    Native to India and China, this species of stink bug was found in Georgia in 2009, the first sighting in America. It was initially found feeding on kudzu, an invasive vine that has spread across the South, but it soon started killing off soybean fields and causing economic damage. Today, the bug has spread to the Carolinas, Alabama, Tennessee and Florida.

    Just like humans, insects have bacteria that live inside their bodies. The microbiome in humans may have as many as 1,000 types of bacteria, but for insects its not as complex, making it an easier study.

    Couret started looking at the kudzu bugs gut bacteria and found that one in particular was essential to feeding. In experiments, she raised bugs from eggs, giving the microbe to one group and withholding it from the other. Many of the bugs who went without didnt survive and the ones that did were smaller and paler than their counterparts that had the necessary bacteria.

    It gave her insight into the importance of symbiotic organisms to insects and offered a clue to potentially controlling the populations of those considered pests.

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    Nearly 40% of Maine ticks tested had Lyme

    There is no vaccine to prevent Powassan or medicine to treat the disease. The best protection against any tick-borne disease is to prevent tick bites in the first place.

    Health officials advise avoiding tick habitats — wooded and bushy areas with tall grass — whenever possible and to stay in the middle of trails when hiking. People can further protect themselves with EPA-approved repellants on skin and clothing.

    During tick season, people should perform tick checks on themselves every day, especially after leaving a tick habitat and upon returning home. They should also check their clothing, gear and pets for ticks.

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    More: How To Protect Yourself From Bug Bites This Summer

    Cases of Powassan virus are very rare, with about 25 reported each year in the U.S. since 2015, according to the Maine CDC. Since 2010, Maine has identified 14 cases, the agency said.

    Though rare, the number of reported cases of people sick from the virus has increased in recent years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most cases occur in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions from late spring through mid-fall, it said.

    Many people infected with Powassan virus do not get sick, according to the Maine CDC. Symptoms can start one week to one month after the bite and can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, memory loss, slurred speech or seizures. The virus can also cause serious neurologic problems, like brain inflammation, known as encephalitis, which can be deadly.

    What To Do If A Tick Bites You

    If you find a tick on yourself, your family member, or your pet, there are a few things you should do:

    • Use sharp tweezers to grab onto the tick, getting as close to the surface of your skin as you possibly can.
    • Pull the tick away from the skin with a steady, even motion. Do not twist or jerk the tick, as this can cause its mouthparts to break off and stay in the skin.
    • If the mouthparts do break off, remove them with the tweezers. If theyre difficult to remove, you can leave them alone and let the skin heal.
    • Clean the bite area with soap and water or antiseptic wipes.
    • Apply a cold pack to the area for a few minutes to help reduce swelling and pain.
    • Watch for signs of infection, such as redness, warmth, or pus. If you see any of these signs, call your doctor right away.

    Ticks are small, parasitic creatures that can cause serious health problems if they bite you. There are a variety of tick species in Maine, and each one is capable of transmitting different diseases.

    The best way to protect yourself from these diseases is to avoid contact with ticks altogether.

    However, if you do find a tick on your body, its important to remove it properly and watch for any signs of infection. By taking these precautions, you can greatly reduce your risk of getting sick from a tick bite.

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    Fully Half Of The Respondents Said Increased Tick Populations Would Likely Affect Whether They Visited Mount Desert Island In The Future

    This summer, in collaboration with several UMaine colleagues and National Park Service staff, De Urioste-Stone launched another survey effort in Acadia, this one geared specifically to park visitors perceptions about ticks and tick-borne illness. Its too early to point to results data collection is ongoing through at least next summer but De Urioste-Stone says people will indeed change their recreation habits if they feel risk is high and preventative measures are inadequate.

    Weve heard it from visitors in the past, she says. I no longer recreate in the summer, I only recreate in the winter to prevent ticks.

    What the project has already revealed, she says, is how eager park visitors are to discuss their and their loved ones brushes with tick-borne disease. The survey has two parts: a live conversation in the park, administered by grad students in highly trafficked areas, followed by an online questionnaire. In the studys testing phase, the live interviews didnt include any questions about respondents own experiences with tick-borne illness. But so many people were saying, You know, I had Lyme disease, or A friend or someone I know did, when we werent even asking, De Urioste-Stone explains. So we added that question after the first week of pre-testing.

    Ive had people call up, Dill says, and just ask, Where can I move to? Where in the country can I go where I wont have to think about this?

    What Kinds Of Ticks Are Found In Maine

    Ticks are winning in invasion of Maine

    First, lets get all the myths out of the way. Ticks do not fly, leap or fall from trees! They dont even have eyes and must wait for a host to pass by. Just imagine waiting for food to cross your path before you can eat.

    Ticks have three life stages as they grow: the larval stage, nymph stage, and adult stage. Its important to know that most ticks will feed in all stages. Therefore, you could contract a disease from any tick you come across. Please obtain medical advice if you have been bitten to see what they recommend! If possible, it is beneficial to capture the tick that has bitten you because it may aid in the treatment.

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    Find A Tick Exterminator In Maine Today

    As there are a number of different kinds of ticks in Maine, many of which can transmit dangerous pathogens that pose serious health risks to humans and animals, consider contacting a licensed pest control professional to handle any tick issues in or around your home. Enter your zip code in the search bar below to see a list of local and licensed exterminators.

    Resources:

    How A Pathogen May Be Helping Ticks

    Couret and her research partners hypothesize that the Lyme bacteria and blacklegged ticks maintain a mutually beneficial relationship. The idea is that if ticks with the pathogen are stronger or more resilient, then the chances of the bacteria spreading go up.

    In pilot studies, Couret has seen changes in ticks after they pick up the bacteria, ranging from the behavioral to the metabolic.

    So how could the bacteria be helping ticks? Its still early in the study, which started in September, and hard to say, but one promising avenue may lie in the ticks tolerance of drought conditions.

    Ticks are generally sensitive to heat, spending time in the leaf litter when its hot and dry. But one characteristic of ticks in the Northeast, versus those in the South, appears to be a tendency to climb higher in the vegetation, up on to plant stalks or branches even as the temperature rises. From these elevated vantage points, its easier for them to latch on to a passing deer or person.

    If somehow the Lyme bacteria is influencing this behavior, it may offer an advantage to the ticks in finding their meals.

    Of course, there are other organisms that make up the ticks microbiome, so isolating the specific interactions with the Lyme bacteria will be difficult. But the researchers are taking a comprehensive view, hoping to look at the many ecological relationships that affect the tick life cycle and tease out some answers.

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    Ticks And Lyme Disease: How Worried Should We Be

    Many of us may be taking a final opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors before the weather takes a turn for the worse. But be wary! It is not just humans that are making the most of the warmth

    Popular singer Avril Lavigne found this out to her cost last year. Her 30th birthday was disrupted by the onset of Lyme disease, an illness that left her bedridden for 5 months.

    I felt like I couldnt breathe, I couldnt talk and I couldnt move, she said in an interview with People. I thought I was dying. But what was it that caused the bacterial infection? Lavigne believes that she was bitten by a tick at some point in the spring.

    It seems strange that something as seemingly innocuous as a tick, often close in size to a pinhead, could damage someones health to the extent that they are fearful for their life, but Lavignes situation is shared by many. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that there was a total of 27,203 cases of Lyme disease confirmed in the US.

    This figure does not tell the whole story when it comes to ticks, however. Although closely associated with Lyme disease, these small arthropods are capable of carrying a wide variety of other pathogens that can cause human disease.

    How To Avoid Ticks In Maine

    Deer ticks thrive in the beautiful fall foliage of Maine

    Now that you are aware of the most common ticks living in Maine, its vital to understand how to avoid getting bit. Here are some common tips to follow to avoid getting bitten by ticks:

    • Wear long pants and tuck them into your socks.
    • Wear bug spray with less than 30% DEET.
    • Pre-treat clothing with a chemical repellant like permethrin
    • Stay towards the center of the trails
    • Avoid tick-infested areas

    In addition to following the common practices above, you should also check yourself and your animals for ticks anytime you go to a place that may have been infested by ticks. Make sure to check the following areas on your own body:

    Additionally, you should check your animals armpits and behind their ears very carefully. Finally, you should shower within two hours of coming indoors as this will help wash away any unattached ticks.

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