Catherine Stanley-Davis - Tick Control, LLC Staff
Lyme, Connecticut is a small, sparsely-populated New England town that boasts scenic views of the coast, rolling green hills, and dense forests. Once connected to the industries of lumber and shipbuilding, the quaint town is now most known for a debilitating disease that shook the community to its core. In 1975, 39 children and 12 adults developed concerning symptoms of illness, including fever, headache, fatigue, rashes, and even paralysis. None of these symptoms, however, were initially connected to a singular source of causation. Most notable among this group was the symptom of arthritis, which involves painful swelling of the joints.
Connecticut’s State Department of Health took note of this cluster of such an unusual outbreak among children and began to search for the cause, prompted by two mothers who served as advocates for those plagued by this mysterious illness. Eventually, it was found that all victims had experienced a tick bite while in the town of Lyme. The illness was dubbed Lyme disease after the town of the outbreak, but it was not until 1982 that scientist Willy Burgdorfer connected Lyme to the spirochete bacterium carried by ticks.
Connecticut is a state that consistently reports high incidents of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme. The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi causes Lyme disease, which is carried in black-legged ticks, otherwise known as deer ticks. The towns served by Tick Control LLC, Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, Westport, and Fairfield, are also considered home by the deer tick. In a recent study of deer ticks in Connecticut, 35.7% of tested ticks were carriers of Lyme disease.
How does the transmission of tick-borne diseases happen? Ticks engage in an activity called questing, where they wait for hosts on the tips of grass or leaves. They will attach to the plant with their lower legs and raise their upper legs, ready to attach to an animal or human as it walks close enough for the ticks to touch them. Next, ticks bite the host, sucking blood over the course of hours or days. If the tick has a bacterium that carries disease such as Lyme, the host can become infested. A diseased tick often has to be attached to its host for 36-48 hours before infection can occur.
Wouldn’t somebody notice a bug on them - especially if it bit them? Maybe not if the bug were a tick. Ticks are truly created to be invasive and go unnoticed. Most of the ticks that transmit Lyme are considered nymphs, which are ticks that are less than 2 mm. These tiny ticks prefer to posit themselves in places that are not obvious to the host, such as the scalp, armpit, or groin. Ticks create a fluid that prevents the host from feeling the bite and insertion of their feeding tube. While it may seem hard to believe that someone would not notice a tick on them for days, the evolutionary methods that ticks use to survive on hosts are designed for them to go undetected.
Living with Lyme
The only constant in living with Lyme disease is the unpredictability of when the effects of the illness will strike. Lyme disease may lie dormant for a period of days to years before an infected individual experiences symptoms. When Lyme symptoms are exhibited, diagnosis can be tricky. If an extended period of time has lapsed between a tick bite and symptoms, a person or medical professional might not make the connection right away. Many symptoms of Lyme are also symptoms of other illnesses, resulting in misdiagnosis and mistreatment.
Symptoms of Lyme disease include muscle soreness, fatigue, sensitivity to light and noise, rash, fever, joint pain, inflammation, and indicators of the common cold and arthritis. Patients with Lyme disease may feel healthy one day and be plagued with the effects of disease the next. Children with Lyme may struggle to complete a typical school day and adults may be inhibited from performing daily work tasks. Lyme is a truly debilitating disease, the effects of which can last a long time without proper treatment.
The good news is that correct diagnosis and treatment can serve to eliminate Lyme disease completely from a patient’s system. If caught early, antibiotics can cure a patient within two to four weeks. At times, symptoms of Lyme may linger even after a patient has received full treatment for the disease. It is imperative, therefore, to be vigilant and attentive to one’s surroundings when living in an area such as Connecticut where ticks have a high rate of carrying Lyme disease.
The best strategy to prevent the transmission of Lyme disease from tick to human revolves around prevention. There are many actionable steps one can take to reduce one’s chances of being bitten by a tick. If you plan to hike a wooded trail, canoe amidst a tree-lined lake, or camp in the cool shade of a Charter Oak, you can apply a tick repellent spray to your body in ample amounts with frequent re-application. If you enjoy life with your beloved dog, you can prevent a tick from attaching to your pup with tick sprays and medications prescribed by your veterinarian. Protecting your pooch from ticks will also prevent a tick from transitioning to you as a host.
One does not have to go on an outdoor adventure to find themselves close to a population of ticks. Long grass, a shrubbery-lined yard, and trees can host a hoard of ticks on your very own property. The best way to have peace of mind while you host a backyard barbecue, tend to your garden, or relax in your hammock is to take advantage of the outdoor safety that can be provided by your local tick control company.
Tick Control, LLC, can offer an effective but safe spray that eliminates existing ticks while preventing eggs and larvae from being able to thrive in that environment. Our company was founded by people who have seen the detrimental effects of Lyme disease first-hand among family and friends. The motivation behind our business is to protect our local population from Lyme and other tick-borne diseases through prevention. We serve the people of Fairfield and New Haven Counties and pride ourselves on contributing to a safer community.
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Lyme: Connecticut History: A CT Humanities Project. (2011, September 13). Retrieved December 27, 2020, from https://connecticuthistory.org/towns-page/lyme/
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