Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that is spread by black-legged ticks. It is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. Vector-borne diseases are human illnesses caused by parasites, viruses, and bacteria that are transmitted by other living organisms like mosquitoes and ticks.
Symptoms of Lyme disease can include erythema migrans (also known as a spreading rash), fever, headache, and fatigue. If diagnosed and treated with antibiotics early, patients can expect a full recovery.
Over 30,000 cases in 2017 came from a total of only. New England accounts for over 18% of the total diagnoses. States in the New England region with the top confirmed diagnoses include:
- Maine- 1,424 diagnosed cases
- Connecticut- 1,381 diagnosed cases
- New Hampshire- 959 diagnosed cases
- Vermont- 646 diagnosed cases
- Rhode Island- 595 diagnosed cases
- Massachusetts- 321 diagnosed cases
All of these areas have the same thing in common; An environment where black-legged ticks thrive in woody, brushy, high grass, and leaf litter. Although there are reported cases in states across the US, they are almost always travel related to the endemic areas.
Since many of the symptoms of Lyme disease mirror a common cold and other illnesses, prevention and education will continue to be the most effective defense. Ticks cannot fly or hop. They position their bodies on the tips of grass blades and shrubs in a position called “questing.” Ticks quest by holding onto the shrub or grass with their bottom legs and the top legs outstretched, waiting for a hug or to grab on to the first moving thing that passes by.
The CDC recommends the following prevention steps to reduce your chances of a black-legged tick bite:
- Avoid Tick Hot Spots– Wooded, grassy, and heavy leaf litter areas.
- Treat Clothing/Gear– Use an EPA recommended product that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone to repel ticks.
- Tick Check Clothing/Gear – Once inside, examine all gear and clothing for ticks. Ticks can range from the size of a poppy seed to a sesame seed. You can throw clothing into a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any ticks that may be on them.
- Tick Check Your Body– Examine your body from head to toe paying special attention to crease areas such as under armpits, ears, etc. Ticks also need 24-48 hours of attachment to spread Lyme disease.
- Shower Within 2 Hours– Showering with hot water within two hours after you have been outside in a known tick area, will help remove unattached ticks that may have hitched a ride.
If you live in a tick prone area, following the above steps to prevent tick-borne illness like Lyme Disease is essential. The doctors and team at Stamford Therapeutics are also working with local patients to help evaluate a trial vaccine for Lyme Disease prevention. Find out how you can get involved HERE. Qualified participants receive a trial vaccine for Lyme Disease and receive compensation for time and travel.