Lyme Disease Affects 300,000 Every Year

Late summer is peak Lyme disease season.

BiteBack_Header7During the past two years I have posted a series of articles on ticks, Lyme disease, and other tick-borne diseases.

Lyme and tick-borne diseases have been diagnosed in all 50 states, so even if you live outside of the Northeast, you are still at risk.

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that thirty thousand Americans were diagnosed with Lyme disease—the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the United States.

New data was released by the CDC last week at the 2013 International Conference on Lyme Borreliosis and Other Tick-Borne Illnesses indicating Lyme disease strikes 300,000 people each year, affecting 10 times more victims than reported a year earlier.

Advocacy_SliderThe new number was based on three studies: one analyzes medical-claims data submitted to insurance companies from twenty-two million people, the second is a survey of clinical laboratories, and the last is a more general assessment of people who believe they may be infected by Lyme.

The new numbers matter!

It’s now time for the public and decision makers in the halls of power to start paying attention.

In response to this alarming news, the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness, supporting initiatives, and promoting advocacy to find a cure for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, calls on government officials to allocate the critical resources needed for research and to focus on the development of a 100 percent reliable diagnostic tool for these devastating diseases, according to a news release.

“The new CDC report confirms what the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance and others have been saying for years—that tick-borne diseases are a national health epidemic and that we need more government research to fight these lethal illnesses,” said David Roth, co-chairman of TBDA and managing director at the Blackstone Real Estate Group.

“Furthermore, given the methodology the CDC used to determine its report of 300,000 new cases annually, it is likely that the actual number is much higher. In addition, the estimate fails to include those infected with other tick-borne illnesses, such as miyamotoi, babesiosis, and the Powassan virus, which can also cause debilitating symptoms, and in some cases death.”

“Everyone is at risk of contracting tick-borne diseases, and it’s important that mainstream America understands that tick-borne diseases are a serious threat to us all. Currently, there is no fully reliable diagnostic test for tick-borne diseases. So those infected often spend months, and in many cases years, searching to find the cause of their illness. Some never find out; they just continue to suffer,” Roth added.

“Whether we want to face it or not, we live in a society with a healthcare system that lacks both reliable diagnostics for tick-borne diseases and therapeutics that work for those whom the typically prescribed course of antibiotics fails. In short, the medical community is failing us, all of us, no matter where we live, what we do, or how old we are.”

Ride_With_JohnThis summer TBDA launched Bite Back for a Cure, a national grassroots campaign to raise awareness about and support for the fight against tick-borne diseases.

Bite Back for a Cure has two elements—an online campaign and a national bike ride.

This summer and fall, 24-year-old Lyme-sufferer John Donnally is biking across America to meet others affected by Lyme disease and galvanize local support to fund research and educate the public about the silent epidemic of tick-borne diseases.

Bite Back’s online campaign will accumulate testimonials from those affected by tick-borne diseases. This “video quilt” will be sent to state and federal legislators, urging them to support Lyme-disease legislation.

Details

Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA)

The Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA) is dedicated to raising awareness, supporting initiatives and promoting advocacy to find a cure for tick-borne diseases, including Lyme.

Website: tbdalliance.org

Worth Pondering…

I tried real hard to play golf, and I was so bad at it they would have to check me for ticks at the end of the round because I’d spent about half the day in the woods.
—Jeff Foxworthy

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6 Common Tick-Borne Diseases

Common tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, relapsing fever, and babesiosis.

Lyme Disease

Circular rash that's usually the first sign of Lyme disease.
Circular rash that’s usually the first sign of Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is an infection spread by the bite of ticks infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.

Symptoms include fatigue, headache, stiff neck, fever, muscle or joint pain, swelling, and sometimes an expanding red rash.

If a rash develops, it may look like a target or bull’s-eye in some people.

Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to many other conditions and tests do not always detect the bacteria.

It is usually effectively treated with a short course of antibiotics. If not treated properly, it can lead to complications involving the heart, nervous system, joints, and skin within weeks, months, or even years later.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever, also called tick fever, spotted fever, or tick typhus, is a bacterial infection passed to humans by wood ticks and dog ticks.

It can lead to life-threatening complications such as shock and kidney failure if not treated promptly.

A potentially fatal disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is caused by an infection with the bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii. The bacteria is transmitted to humans by three different types of ticks—American dog tick, Lone Star tick, and wood tick.
A potentially fatal disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is caused by an infection with the bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii. The bacteria is transmitted to humans by three different types of ticks—American dog tick, Lone Star tick, and wood tick.

Initial symptoms usually start an average of seven days after the tick bite and include a sudden fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, distinct rash, nausea, and vomiting.

The rash typically is made up of many tiny, flat, purple, or red spots. It usually starts on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and then spreads to the arms, legs, and the rest of the body.

Tularemia

Tularemia, also called deerfly fever or rabbit fever, is a disease that usually occurs in animals, but the disease can be transmitted to humans through an infected tick.

Symptoms usually start within 21 days, but average one to 10 days, after the tick bite.

Symptoms of tularemia include chills, sudden high fever, headache, an open crater-like sore at the site of the bite, swollen glands near the site of the bite, nausea, and vomiting.

Prescription medicine is used to treat tularemia.

Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is an infectious disease that can be passed to humans by ticks.

It causes fever, chills, headache, general ill feeling, nausea, vomiting, and a purple or red rash. Symptoms usually start from one to 21 days (average of seven days) after the tick bite. Prescription medicine is used to treat ehrlichiosis.

Relapsing Fever

Relapsing fever is an infectious disease that can be passed to humans by ticks.

It is most common in the western United States.

Symptoms usually start three to 11 days (average of six days) after the tick bite. They may last for several days, go away, and then return several days later.

Symptoms include sudden high fever, headache, rapid heart rate, muscle aches, abdominal pain, general feeling of illness, and a rash in up to 50 percent of cases.

Prescription medicine is used to treat relapsing fever.

Babesiosis

Babesiosis is a rare parasitic disease that can be passed to humans by deer ticks.

Tularemia is named after Tulane County, California.
Tularemia is named after Tulane County, California.

It may not always cause symptoms. When present, symptoms usually start one to four weeks after the tick bite. Symptoms of babesiosis include a general feeling of illness, decreased appetite, tiredness, fever, chills, recurring sweats, and muscle aches.

Babesiosis is treated with antibiotic medicines.

When returning home after spending time in areas where ticks may live, always carefully check for ticks on the skin and scalp. A little time spent conducting a tick check may prevent days, weeks or months of illness.

Be TickSmart™ Stay TickSafe!

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series on tick-borne diseases.

Part 1: Human Illnesses Associated With Tick Bites

Worth Pondering…

I tried real hard to play golf, and I was so bad at it they would have to check me for ticks at the end of the round because I’d spent about half the day in the woods.

—Jeff Foxworthy

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Human Illnesses Associated With Tick Bites

Recently I posted a series of articles on ticks and Lyme disease.

ticks-cutThe Alabama Department of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries joins numerous other government departments and organizations in spreading the word about one of the seasons’ biggest — but rarely mentioned dangers — tick bites.

As the weather warms and you are spending more time outdoors, don’t forget to allow time for a tick check.

While some songwriters and comedians make light of ticks, a tick bite should be taken seriously. Ticks are the leading carriers of diseases to humans in the United States, second only to mosquitoes worldwide.

Ticks are small spider-like animals that bite to fasten themselves onto the skin and feed on blood. Ticks are most plentiful in areas where woodlands transition into fields, meadows, or backyards. Deer paths through the woods are often loaded with ticks. Tall grass, leaf litter, woodpiles, and rock walls are also areas of high tick concentration. Where mice are present, ticks are usually abundant.

Ticks hide in low brush to allow them to come in contact with a host. Once they catch a ride on a host they will live in the fur and feathers of many different species of animals.

tick_sizesMost tick bites occur during early spring to late summer in areas with many wild animals and birds. The toxins, secretions, and organisms transmitted through a tick’s saliva are the sources of the tick-borne diseases.

Most ticks do not carry diseases and most tick bites do not cause serious health problems.
Immature ticks (larvae and nymphs) are so small that they can be difficult to see.

However, all stages of ticks need to feed on blood to continue on to the next stage—therefore these tiny ticks can be an important threat.

Campers and hikers and others engaging in outdoor activities should be aware that ticks are most active during the spring and summer months when they’re typically in their “nymph” stage. Because of their small size at this stage in their lives, these ticks can go feeding — unnoticed — for days, allowing greater time for infectious bacteria to travel from the tick to its human host

It is very important to remove a tick as soon as it is found. This helps decrease the likelihood of contracting diseases from the tick.

Care should be used to remove the tick’s head to prevent an infection in the skin where the bite occurred.

The sooner ticks are removed the less likely they are to transmit disease.

If you find a tick attached to your skin, there’s no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.

Grab the tick as close to its mouth as possible. The body of the tick will often be above the skin’s surface, but its head and mouth will likely be buried.

Grabbing the tick by its belly can force infected fluids out of its mouth and into the skin.

Pull the tick straight out until its mouth lets go of the skin.

Put the removed tick in a dry jar or Ziploc bag and save it in the freezer for later identification if symptoms start and medical attention is needed.

Wash the area where the tick was attached with warm, soapy water once the tick is removed. Apply an antibiotic ointment to the bite area to help prevent infection.

ticksthMany tick-borne diseases cause flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and muscle aches.

Symptoms may begin from one to three weeks after the tick bite. Sometimes a rash or sore appears along with the flu-like symptoms.

When returning home after spending time in areas where ticks may live, always carefully check for ticks on the skin and scalp. A little time spent conducting a tick check may prevent days, weeks, or months of illness.

Be TickSmart™ Stay TickSafe!

Please Note: This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on tick-borne diseases.

Part 2: 6 Common Tick-Borne Diseases

Worth Pondering…

We, the artists, make the stuff they sell and they’re like ticks on our backs, sucking the life out of us.
—Malcolm Wilson

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Fall and Winter Warning about Blacklegged Ticks

An earlier post, Top 10 things RVers Should Know about Ticks, stressed the fact that ticks can be active even in the winter.

Blacklegged ticks or Deer ticks. (Credit: tickencounter.org)
Blacklegged ticks or Deer ticks. (Credit: tickencounter.org)

That’s right! Adult stage blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks) become active every year after the first frost.

They’re not killed by freezing temperatures, and while other ticks enter a feeding diapause as day-lengths get shorter, deer ticks will be active any winter day that the ground is not snow-covered or frozen. This surprises people, especially during a January thaw or early spring day.

Remember this fact and hopefully you’ll never be caught off-guard.

Campers, hikers, and hunters should take special precautions in the woods during fall and winter to avoid this winter-resilient tick that transmits Lyme disease, according the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

“We are trying to make the hunters aware that there are ticks in some of these areas and asking them to check their deer,” said Lindsay Rist, wildlife communication specialist for ODNR.

Two other species of ticks commonly found in Ohio—the American dog tick and the lone star tick—are known to transmit Lyme disease. However, neither of these species has been found to be active in winter.

When Dr. Glen Needham, entomologist at The Ohio State University, received a call that a family in Coshocton County had found a tick on their clothing in January, his interest was piqued.

Winter resilient blacklegged tick. (Courtesy: Dr. Glen Needham, OSU)
Winter resilient blacklegged tick. (Courtesy: Dr. Glen Needham, OSU)

“Ohio is not supposed to have ticks in January. For this tick, they did not get the memo on good tick behavior,” said Needham.

Needham traveled to the area and found an established population of blacklegged ticks. Since then, an additional 25 Ohio counties have added to the list of those with likely established populations.

For a county to be officially designated as such, they need to meet one of two criteria set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The county needs to have turned in six blacklegged ticks or two blacklegged ticks in different life stages, said Needham.

As part of an annual summary of tick-borne diseases compiled by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) in 2011, the department collected ticks from deer heads donated by hunters in 25 Ohio counties. That project identified 56 blacklegged ticks from Monroe County, 48 from Noble County, 16 from Morgan County, and one from Athens County.

The ODH also collected and identified ticks submitted from various agencies and individuals. Only one blacklegged tick was identified from Washington County in 2011, not enough to qualify it as a county with a likely established population. But not officially qualifying does not mean the ticks are not here, said Needham.

Fact Box

Blacklegged or deer tick

This tiny, dark tick is one of three Lyme disease transmitting tick species found in Ohio.

They are the only Lyme disease transmitting tick that is active in winter.

Only 35 were identified in the 20-year period between 1989 and 2008. Since 2008 that number has been sharply on the rise, with 2,014 found in 2011 alone.

There were 53 cases of Lyme disease reported in Ohio in 2011 and 46 cases reported so far this year, said Lynn Denny, epidemiologist with the Ohio Department of Health.

Precautions

There are several precautions that outdoorsmen and women can take to protect themselves this fall and winter. It is important to make sure all clothing is snuggly tucked in. This will ensure that as little skin as possible is accessible.

Ticks are going to climb up from the bottom until they find skin.

A tick repellent containing permethrin can be purchased at most outdoors stores. The repellent should be used to saturate clothes and given time to dry. It dries odorless and lasts through approximately six washings.

Check that deer carcasses are free of ticks as soon as possible to avoid spreading the ticks to new locations.

If sick, remember to tell your physician of possible exposure to ticks.

For more information on identifying, preventing, and removing ticks, visit the ODNR resource page.

Worth Pondering…

I tried real hard to play golf, and I was so bad at it they would have to check me for ticks at the end of the round because I’d spent about half the day in the woods.
—Jeff Foxworthy

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Deer Tick Infestation closes Massachusetts Campsites

The busy summer season is over, and usually by this time the officials at Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod close one of their seven camping areas, but this year they are closing three of their campsites.

Diagram of the relative sizes of tick species at various life stages. (Credit: tbdalliance.org)

Instead of a lack of campers, it’s an infestation of Deer Ticks which is the reason. These pests are the carriers of Lyme disease.

Department of Conservation and Recreation officials note while they closed the three campsites that were closest to the problem areas, people can camp in other parts of the state park, they just need to dress appropriately and check each other for ticks when they leave, reports WBUR in a special series, “Living with Lyme.”

It’s a concern that swept this state park after nymph and larvae-stage ticks were found here this summer.

“What people were finding at Nickerson is, they’re finding like hundreds of these larvae on their little kids,” Cape’s Deer Tick Program Coordinator Larry Dapsis told NECN.

Dapsis said there were several factors that made this season worse than a typical year.
“There were so many days above freezing last winter the ticks had many, many opportunities to get a blood meal and lay eggs and so we have probably had a ‘kagillion’ more eggs than normal that were laid and are hatching out now.”

A small acorn crop last fall meant the tick’s favorite meal, mice, weren’t out as often feeding in the woods, Dapsis added.

Stages of the life cycle of a deer tick. (Credit: canlyme.com)

“So with fewer mice that meant the ticks were out there for a longer period of time so it increased the probability that they were going to encounter an alternate host like a person.”

“A disease like Lyme disease, the transmission is not immediate, it takes at least 24-48 hours of attachment before the risk of getting the transmission goes up considerably.”

DCR officials say they moved anyone who was supposed to be camping in any one of the three affected campsites and they gave refunds to any campers who didn’t want to move.

“It’s an unavoidable risk in this area,” Kevin McNamara told NECN.

Kevin and Lisa McNamara live right next to Nickerson State Park in Brewster, Massachusetts. They say they know the deer ticks have been prevalent this year and they understand the state’s decision to shut down nearly half of the park’s campsites to try to protect people from tick-born illnesses.

Lisa McMamara said, “Actually I think it was wise, just having a son who was so ill with Lyme disease.”

She says the symptoms were devastating. “Oh my gosh, high fever, aches, I mean literally couldn’t get out of bed.”

Trust Your Instincts and Protect Yourself (Courtesy of Time For Lyme, Inc., affiliate of Lyme Disease Association, Inc, Greenwich, Connecticut.)

Protect yourself. Check yourself, family members, and pets for ticks daily. Remember that ticks are carried by deer, mice, birds and other small animals. Nymphal ticks are the size of a poppy seed in early spring and are particularly hard to find. They are active above 35 degrees. You can be reinfected repeatedly each time you are bitten by a tick.

Observe. A person infected with Lyme disease can exhibit symptoms within days of exposure, but symptoms may appear weeks, months, or even years after the bite.

Treatable. Lyme disease in its initial stage is often easily treatable; however, delayed diagnosis or inadequate treatment can lead to serious brain, heart, or joint problems.

To remove, grasp the tick with fine-tipped tweezers and pull upward with steady, even pressure. (Credit: cdc.gov)

Examine/evaluate. Early symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, numbness, tingling, fatigue, swollen glands, and migratory pains that may come and go. Late stage symptoms are generally multi-systemic and can be very serious.

Co-infection. A single tick bite can transmit more than 1 tick-borne illness, such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, or tulermia.

Youngsters. Children ages 5-12 are at the highest risk for being bitten by ticks because they often play in tick habitats. Children often find it difficult to explain the subtleties of how they are feeling, and may often appear well and remain physically active.

Obvious. A person may have Lyme disease without presenting the most obvious and “classic” symptoms such as bull’s eye rash, flu, joint pain, or swelling.

Understand. There are over 100 strains of Lyme disease in the United States; therefore, length and choice of antibiotic treatment vary greatly. Standard treatment of 2-3 weeks may be insufficient.

Recurring. Many people who suffer from Lyme disease experience symptoms that come and go over time.

Symptoms. The symptoms of Lyme disease, (also known as the Great Imitator) may mimic those of multiple sclerosis, lupus, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, mononucleosis, Alzheimers, Guillian-Barre Syndrome, ALS, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson ’s disease, ADD, or ADHD, GERD, or many other diseases.

Lyme disease can affect behavioral and cognitive functioning. Memory loss, attention deficit and processing problems, mental confusion, slurred speech, disorientation, irritability, depression, anxiety, and learning problems have all been reported as a result of Lyme disease.

Worth Pondering…

What people were finding at Nickerson is, they’re finding like hundreds of these larvae on their little kids.

— Larry Dapsis, Cape’s Deer Tick Program Coordinator

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Are You a Tick Magnet?

Hikers with normal pheromones tread along the lakeshore or the stream edge without fear of the little bloodsuckers, but do you bring home a half-dozen of them, swollen up like little marbles as they suck out your life fluids?

Blacklegged ticks or Deer ticks. (Credit: tickencounter.org)

Do they wait in gangs at the corner of deer trails to mug you?

If you sit on a stump, is it a tick condo?

Do ticks pile on you like Japanese workers cramming themselves into a Tokyo train when you walk through a cane break or a clear cut?

Tick bites are more annoying than dangerous most of the time, but there is some reason for concern, reports The Fishing Wire.

According to the National Center for Disease Control, a small percentage of ticks carry Lyme disease.

And according to the American Lyme Disease Foundation (ALDF), there’s one case per million people in Alabama, for example, in an average year.

However, it’s a sure thing that hikers, campers, hunters, and shoreline anglers are more likely to get it than those whose feet never step off the sidewalks; there are a lot of ticks in the woods in some areas, epidemic practically, so it pays to be vigilant.

Grasp the tick with fine-tipped tweezers. (Credit: cdc.gov)

Some deer are loaded with ticks, and when a hunter harvests one and hauls it out of the woods, the little vampires have an excellent chance to change hosts.

Lyme disease has been ascribed so many symptoms that they become meaningless; fever, sweats, chills, flushing, fatigue, swollen glands, sore throat, pelvic pain, urinary problems, loss of libido, upset stomach, stiffness in the joints, back and neck, muscle pain, cramps, twitching, headaches, tingling, numbness, burning, and stabbing sensations—you name it.

It is a disease tailor made for hypochondriacs and disability cheats, and many doctors are reluctant to diagnose it because of that outside the core areas of occurrence in the northeastern U.S.

Even if a tick infected with Lyme disease bites you, that does not mean you’re going to get the disease.

Doctors say it takes hours for the transmission to take place, and if you get the tick out promptly, odds are good there will be no problem.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), best way to get a tick out is with tweezers, grasping the body as close to the skin as possible. With a steady motion, pull on the tick until it either lets go or its head pops off (yecchh!).

Avoid crushing or touching the body-throw it in the trash or flush it down the toilet.

The CDC says that even though mouth parts may remain temporarily embedded in your skin, they can no longer transmit the Lyme disease bacteria once they’re separated from the body.

Clean the spot with soap and water, then blot with alcohol and you’re done. In a few days the head will work its way out of your skin.

Pull upward with steady, even pressure. (Credit: cdc.gov)

That’s the way it’s supposed to go—but how will you know if you’re that one in a million who caught the disease?

Look for the bulls-eye. In most cases, an infection from a bite soon shows a red ring around the bite-location. The ring may be anywhere from a couple inches to the size of a softball. If you see this pattern, you need to see a doctor, pronto-and sometimes, even when the disease is present, there’s no ring-first real symptoms are achy joints and headaches, doctors say.

Early stage Lyme disease can be cured by heavy doses of antibiotics. Allowed to progress, however, it can hang on for years and be very hard to suppress. Use insect spray any time you’re in the woods, shower immediately when you get home and check your skin regularly and odds are you’ll have few problems this summer with ticks.

Related Stories

Worth Pondering…

I tried real hard to play golf, and I was so bad at it they would have to check me for ticks at the end of the round because I’d spent about half the day in the woods.

—Jeff Foxworthy

Read More

Facts about Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases

Tick-borne diseases including Lyme can attack virtually any system in the body.

The “bulls eye”-like rash in this picture is the typical symptom of a tick bite that produces lyme disease. (Source: healthalternativesonline.com)

Some of the first symptoms may include a flu-like condition, with fever, chills, headache, stiff neck, achiness, and fatigue. Other symptoms can include pain in various joints and muscles, neurological problems, heart involvement, problems with vision or hearing, migraines, low-grade fever, or other symptoms.

Lyme disease is often mistaken for other illnesses since the symptoms often mirror other medical problems, such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, and Alzheimer’s disease. In some cases, Lyme disease patients can become paralyzed and/or comatose.

Lyme and other tick-borne disease symptoms may come and go and be replaced by new symptoms. Symptoms may be subtle or pronounced.

Approximately 60 percent of patients with untreated infection may begin to have intermittent bouts of arthritis, with severe joint pain and swelling. Large joints are most often affected, particularly the knees.

Approximately 10-20 percent of patients with Lyme disease have symptoms that last months to years after treatment with antibiotics. These symptoms can include muscle and joint pains, cognitive defects, sleep disturbance, or fatigue. The cause of these symptoms is not known.

Lyme disease is an infection that is transmitted through the bite of a deer or blacklegged tick infected with a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Ticks typically get the bacterium by biting infected animals, like deer and mice. (Source: erwinadr.blogspot.ca)

Your risk of acquiring a tick-borne illness depends on many factors, including where you live, what type of tick bit you, and how long the tick was attached. If you become ill after a tick bite, see your doctor.

Basic information about Lyme and tick-borne diseases (TBDs):

Lyme and tick-borne diseases are prevalent across all states and most Canadian provinces. Ticks do not know geographic boundaries. A person’s county of residence does not accurately reflect their total TBD risk, since people travel, pets travel, and ticks travel. This creates a dynamic situation with many opportunities for exposure for every individual.

Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis because there is no definitive diagnostic test yet. Spirochetal infection of multiple organ systems causes a wide range of symptoms. Familiarity with its varied presentations is essential to recognizing disseminated Lyme disease. The medical practitioner should be experienced to make a proper clinical diagnosis.

Fewer than half of patients with Lyme disease recall a tick bite. In some studies this number is as low as 15 percent. So if you never saw a tick on your body, it doesn’t mean you are TBD-free.

Fewer than half of patients with Lyme disease recall any rash. Although the “bulls eye” red rash is considered the classic sign to look for, it is not even the most common dermatologic manifestation of early Lyme infection. Atypical forms of this rash are seen far more commonly. It is important to know that the Erythema Migrans rash is a clear, unequivocal sign of Lyme disease and requires no further verification prior to starting six weeks of antibiotic therapy. Shorter treatment courses have resulted in upwards of a 40 percent relapse rate.

There has never in the history of this illness been one study that proves even in the simplest way 30 days of antibiotic treatment cures Lyme or tick-borne diseases. However, there is a plethora of documentation in medical literature demonstrating that short courses of antibiotic treatment fail to eradicate the Lyme spirochete and other tick-borne bacteria.

This billboard was errected on the outskirts of Blenheim, Ontario by Chatham-Kent Public Health. Reduce the risk, target ticks! (Source: lyme-disease.halifaxhrm.com)

There is no test currently available to determine whether the bacteria organism is eradicated or the patient is cured.

There are five subspecies of Borrelia burgdorferi, over 100 strains in the U.S. This diversity is thought to contribute to Borrelia burgdorferi’s various antibiotic resistances.

Lyme is the number one tick-borne illness in the U.S. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports there are 24,000 new cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. each year, but the CDC also states that past figures may have been underreported by tenfold. International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) believes newly diagnosed cases of Lyme may occur at a rate five times higher than the number of new AIDS cases.

Be TickSmart™ Stay TickSafe!

Note: This is Part 3 of a 3-part series about Lyme and tick-borne diseases

Part 1: Tick-Borne Diseases Are No Walk in the Park

Part 2: Top 10 Tick Prevention Tips

Worth Pondering…

We, the artists, make the stuff they sell and they’re like ticks on our backs, sucking the life out of us.
—Malcolm Wilson

Read More

Top 10 Tick Prevention Tips

The simplest and most effective act of prevention is to avoid being bitten by a tick.

Blacklegged ticks or Deer ticks. (Credit: tickencounter.org)
Blacklegged ticks or Deer ticks. (Credit: tickencounter.org)

This isn’t a very practical answer for campers and hikers and many people who enjoy working and playing outdoors; some occupations expose workers to ticks every day.

But there are some things you can do to reduce your risk.

Following is TBDA’s Top 10 tick prevention tips:

  1. Purchase tick-repellent clothing, especially clothing treated with permethrin, an insecticide that repels and kills ticks; you may spray your own clothing with permethrin or seek out brands such as Insect Shield, ExOfficio’s BugsAway, or ElimiTick from retailers like L.L. Bean and Eastern Mountain Sports, which remain effective for up to 70 washes
  2. Reduce the amount of skin exposed by wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hat
  3. EPA-approved insect repellent should be applied to exposed skin
  4. Venture in the center of woodland trails, and by all means avoid walking along any deer paths
  5. Every time you’ve been outside, check for ticks while you are out and as soon as you get back
  6. Never wait to shower—bathing as soon as possible will help in removing unattached ticks from your body (Bath time is the perfect time to carefully inspect for any unwanted hitchhikers)
  7. Take your clothes off and put them in the dryer at high heat for about 30 minutes to kill any ticks
  8. Inspect your pets when they come inside from the outdoors, as they may be transporting ticks that can then transfer to you
  9. Opt for light-colored clothing to make it easier to spot ticks
  10. Neatly tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants legs into your socks when possible to provide an extra line of defense against ticks

Remember these 10 things and you’ll stay safer.

These days, ticks are more than just an annoyance. One bite can make you sick, even change your life!

What to Do If You Are Bitten by a Tick

Grasp the tick with fine-tipped tweezers. (Credit: cdc.gov)
Grasp the tick with fine-tipped tweezers. (Credit: cdc.gov)

If you find a tick attached to your skin, there’s no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.

How to remove 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.

If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small.

But to be safe, watch for signs or symptoms of Lyme disease such as the “bulls eye” rash—a red, expanding rash called erythema migrans (EM) and/or fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle, and joint aches. Some people may get these general symptoms in addition to an EM rash, but in others, these general symptoms may be the only evidence of infection.

The only distinctive hallmark unique to Lyme disease, the “bulls eye” rash, is absent in almost half of the people who become infected. The inadequacies of today’s laboratory tests make proper diagnosis difficult, and it can be extremely troublesome to treat tick-borne disease infections in their later phases.

Pull upward with steady, even pressure. (Credit: cdc.gov)
Pull upward with steady, even pressure. (Credit: cdc.gov)

If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.

The following prevention summary is provided by BLAST! Lyme Prevention:

Follow the BLAST Safety Steps

B athe or shower soon after coming indoors
L ook for ticks and remove with tweezers
A pply repellents for skin and/or clothing
S pray the perimeter of your yard for ticks
T reat your pets

Be TickSmart™ Stay TickSafe!

Note: This is Part 2 of a 3-part series about Lyme and tick-borne diseases

Part 1: Tick-Borne Diseases Are No Walk in the Park

Part 3: Facts about Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases

Worth Pondering…

Worrying is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

—Anon

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Tick-Borne Diseases Are No Walk in the Park

Recently I posted a two-part series on ticks and Lyme disease based on information from the non-profit Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center:

Stages of the life cycle of a deer tick. (Credit: canlyme.com)
Stages of the life cycle of a deer tick. (Credit: canlyme.com)

The Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA) and the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation are also spreading the word about one of the seasons’ biggest — but rarely mentioned dangers — the Deer or Blacklegged tick that transmits Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. People become infected with the Lyme disease bacteria when they are bitten by an infected blacklegged tick.

Immature ticks (larvae and nymphs) are so small that they can be difficult to see. However, all stages of ticks need to feed on blood to continue on to the next stage—therefore these tiny ticks can be an important threat.

Campers and hikers and others engaging in outdoor activities should be aware that ticks are most active during the spring and summer months when they’re typically in their “nymph” stage. Because of their small size at this stage in their lives, these ticks can go feeding — unnoticed — for days, allowing greater time for infectious bacteria to travel from the tick to its human host, according to a TBDA news release.

Blacklegged ticks live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas. You may come into contact with ticks during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through vegetation such as leaf litter or shrubs.

Ticks are most plentiful in areas where woodlands transition into fields, meadows, or backyards. Deer paths through the woods are often loaded with ticks. Tall grass, leaf litter, woodpiles, and rock walls are also areas of high tick concentration. Where mice are present, ticks are usually abundant.

Diagram of the relative sizes of tick species at various life stages. (Credit: tbdalliance.org)
Diagram of the relative sizes of tick species at various life stages. (Credit: tbdalliance.org)

Lyme disease is the fastest growing infectious disease and the most common tick-borne disease in the country, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but there are numerous other diseases that ticks can transmit, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, erlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Colorado tick fever, and Powassan encephalitis.

It is unclear how many cases of tick-borne diseases are properly diagnosed or reported each year. Estimates indicate that only one out of every ten cases of Lyme disease is reported and that many people are misdiagnosed.

There were 29,959 confirmed cases and 8509 probable cases of Lyme disease in the United States in 2009; most of these cases are reported from the Northeast and upper Midwest. In 2009, Lyme disease was the 5th most common Nationally Notifiable disease.

The actual number of new annual cases is believed to be much higher than the number reported, partially because reporting criteria varies state to state. The number of cases reported annually has increased nearly 25-fold since national surveillance began in 1982. In 2010, 94% of Lyme disease cases were reported from the following 12 states:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
Dorsal view of a nymphal “lone star tick” – Because of their small size relative to adult ticks, many people do not notice the presence of a feeding nymphal tick for a few days. (Credit: tbdalliance.org)
Dorsal view of a nymphal “lone star tick” – Because of their small size relative to adult ticks, many people do not notice the presence of a feeding nymphal tick for a few days. (Credit: tbdalliance.org)

Lyme and tick-borne diseases have been diagnosed in all 50 states and most Canadian provinces, so even if you live outside of the Northeast, you are still at risk!

There is currently no full-proof diagnostic tool for Lyme disease, causing thousands of people to often go misdiagnosed and without appropriate treatment. Many sufferers of tick-borne illnesses are not even aware that they are victims of these diseases because they simply don’t have the facts. TBDA believes it is essential to raise awareness about tick prevention.

Note: This is Part 1 of a 3-part series about Lyme and tick-borne diseases

Part 2: Top 10 Tick Prevention Tips

Part 3: Facts about Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases

Worth Pondering…

I tried real hard to play golf, and I was so bad at it they would have to check me for ticks at the end of the round because I’d spent about half the day in the woods.
—Jeff Foxworthy

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Top 10 Things Everyone Should Know about Ticks…And Stay Disease-Free

Blacklegged ticks (also known as Deer ticks) take two years to complete their life cycle and are found predominately in deciduous forest.

Blacklegged ticks or Deer ticks
Blacklegged ticks or Deer ticks

Their distribution relies greatly on the distribution of its reproductive host, white-tailed deer. Both nymph and adult stages transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis.

Following are the top 5 things everyone should know about Ticks…and stay disease-free (to read #6-10, click here.

5. For most tick-borne diseases, you have at least 24 hours to find and remove a feeding tick before it transmits an infection

Even a quick daily tick check at bath or shower time can be helpful in finding and removing attached ticks before they can transmit an infection. You’ll probably want to check even more carefully if you know you’ve likely been exposed.

Many of the disease-causing microbes transmitted by ticks need a “re-activation” period in the tick once it begins to feed. The germs eventually make their way into the tick’s salivary glands and the tick spits them into you while feeding.

Some infections, especially viruses, move into the tick salivary glands faster than others. Lyme disease bacteria take at least 24 hours to invade the tick’s saliva.

4. Deer tick nymphs look like a poppy seed on your skin

And with about 1 out of 4 nymphal deer ticks carrying the Lyme disease spirochete and other nasty germs in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, upper mid-western U.S., and southern Canada, it’s important to know what you’re really looking for.

They’re easy to miss, their bites are generally painless, and they have a habit of climbing up—under clothing—and biting in hard-to-see places.

3. The easiest and safest way to remove a tick is with a pointy tweezer

Think of a tick as a little germ-filled balloon. Squeeze it too hard on its back end, and all the germs get pushed to the front end, which by the way, is attached to you by the tick’s straw-like mouthpart.

Using really pointy tweezers, it’s possible to grab even the poppy-seed sized nymphs right down next to the skin. The next step is to simply pull the tick out like a splinter. Don’t worry if the mouthpart stays in your skin as long as you’ve got the rest of the tick by its head.

Other tick removal methods, like a hot match, Vaseline, dish soap, and cotton, or various little key-like devices don’t work as consistently as pointy tweezers on all types of ticks. Remember to save the tick and try to identify it.

2. Clothing with built-in tick repellent is best for preventing tick bite

DEET-containing products were thought to be a good option for preventing tick bites.

However, recent tests have shown that although DEET is an excellent repellent for mosquitoes, black flies, and gnats, it’s only effective at repelling ticks for brief time periods after being applied and then must be re-applied.

A better option for repelling ticks are “Clothing Only Repellents” such as those containing Permethrin—found in Permanone® Products, Sawyer Clothing-Only Repellent® and Repel®.

These products contain about 0.5% Permethin, much less than the amount used to treat head lice on children or Scabies mite infestations of the skin. In the case of tick repellents, using more of the active ingredient than this is unnecessary, and can even lead to chemical overexposure.

You can purchase tick repellent clothes containing permethrin—easiest and most cost-effective—or use sprays and soaking kits to treat your own clothes with permethrin tick repellent.

Commercially treated clothing remains tick repellent through 70 wash cycles while treat-at-home sprays and kits provide effective repellency for up to six washings.

An easy way to avoid tick bites and disease is to wear clothing—shoes, socks, shorts or pants, and shirt—with permethrin tick repellent built-in.

Tick repellent on clothing, not skin is something everyone needs to know about to stay safe outdoors.

1. Tick bites and tick-borne diseases are completely preventable

There’s really only one way you get a tick-transmitted disease and that’s from a tick bite. Reducing tick abundance in your yard where you spend a lot of time, wearing tick repellent clothing every day, treating pets every month with tick repellent spot-on products, getting into a habit of doing a quick body scan for attached poppy-seed sized or larger ticks, and pulling ticks off quickly and safely are all great actions for preventing tick bites.

These days, ticks are more than just an annoyance. One bite can make you sick, even change your life!

Remember these 10 things and you’ll stay safer.

Be TickSmart™ Stay TickSafe!

Details

TickEncounter Resource Center (TCRC)

The following information is courtesy of the non-profit Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center.

The TickEncounter Resource Center promotes tick-bite protection and tick-borne disease prevention by engaging, educating, and empowering people to take action.

Website: tickencounter.org

http://www.tickencounter.org/

Note: This is Part 1 of a 2-part series about ticks and Lyme disease

Part 1: Top 10 things RVers Should Know about Ticks

Worth Pondering…

We, the artists, make the stuff they sell and they’re like ticks on our backs, sucking the life out of us.
—Malcolm Wilson

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