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LYME DISEASE (Borellia burgdorferi) Tick Control, LLC
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in North America, with a reported 300,000 cases per year. It was first discovered in 1975, in Old Lyme, Connecticut.
Signs and Symptoms
Lyme Disease produces a wide range of symptoms and may pass through stages. Acute and chronic signs of Lyme disease can differ, and not every person infected will react in the same way. The earliest sign of Lyme disease is usually a rash called erythema migrans, which can develop as early as 3 days or as late as 30 days after infection.
The rash is neither painful nor itchy, but may be warm to the touch. It begins at the site of the tick bite and expands outward in a circular, “bull’s eye” pattern. Other acute symptoms include fever, chills, headaches, fatigue, and muscle aches.
If left untreated, people can develop chronic symptoms of Lyme disease, notably Lyme arthritis. It can also lead to neurologic problems, like numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, facial palsy, and cognitive difficulties. In some cases, untreated Lyme disease can even lead to heart complications, like palpitations.
What is the Bacterium that Causes Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is primarily caused by the bacterium Borellia burgdorferi and less commonly by the bacterium B. mayonii. B. burgdorferi was first analyzed in 1981 by Willy Burgdorfer, lending the bacterium its name.
B. burgdorferi exists in North America and Europe. Along with B. mayonii, it is the only known cause of Lyme disease. When an infected tick bites you, both the bacterium and the tick’s saliva are transmitted. The tick’s saliva serves to suppress your body’s immune response to B. burgdorferi, allowing it to spread.
Ticks can become infected with the bacterium when feeding on small mammals who are also infected. They are then a vector, or carrier for the bacterium which they transmit when they bite humans. Most Lyme disease infections are the result of bites from ticks in the nymph stage, when they’re smaller and harder to detect. Nymph-stage ticks are most active in late spring and early summer, so this is when most Lyme disease infections are reported.
Which Type of Tick Carries Lyme Disease?
The most common vector for Lyme disease is the black-legged tick, or Ixodes scapularis. It’s also referred to as the deer tick since its favorite host is the white-tailed deer. Other common tick species, like the American dog tick, the brown dog tick, and the lone star tick are not known to carry Lyme disease.
This tick species is one of the most common in Connecticut, often found in areas with tall grasses and shrubs. These ticks will wait on the tips of these tall grasses, upper legs outstretched, then climb onto a host as it brushes past the tall grass.
Ticks can often go unnoticed, having bitten their host before the host realizes. If, however, the black-legged tick can be removed within 24 hours of the bite, you can reduce your chances of contracting Lyme disease.
Cures and Treatments
Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics if it’s caught in time. Usually, a dose of 2-3 weeks is prescribed and the most common medicines are doxycycline, amoxicillin, and cefuroxime axetil. For the longer symptoms of Lyme disease, like Lyme arthritis and neurologic complications, antibiotics are also typically the recommended course of action.
Facial palsy that results from Lyme disease usually resolves itself. Lyme carditis, which is responsible for heart complications, may require a temporary pacemaker in some cases, until cardiac abnormalities are returned to normal.
Areas in Danger of Being Bitten
In the United States, black-legged ticks that cause Lyme disease are most prevalent in the Northeast and the northern Midwest.
Black-legged ticks prefer woodlands, and shady, moist areas. They also like transition zones between lawns and woods. It’s estimated that 69% of tick bites occur in residences for this reason. When working or playing in the yard, clearing brush, or other activities, take care in letting pets that roam in tick-heavy areas. They can carry ticks into the house and you’re more likely to be bitten. You’re also likely to be bitten when hiking, camping, or walking through wooded areas.
Although Lyme disease is treatable, prevention is highly recommended by the CDC. If you’re planning to go camping, you can treat your clothes and shoes with a 0.5% permethrin solution to ward off ticks. You should also use DEET repellents when venturing into tick habitats. Additionally, since catching black-legged ticks early can reduce chances of Lyme disease, you should always check yourself and your pets for ticks after traversing through wooded areas, before entering your house or lawn.
Lyme disease is a common tick-borne disease, but is treatable and preventable. Since the vector for this disease – the black-legged tick – is so prevalent in Connecticut, you’re more at risk for being bitten and infected. With knowledge of the right prevention methods, however, you can stave off potential attacks and protect yourself and your family from contracting Lyme disease.
For more information about Lyme disease, visit the CDC’s website here. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/
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