Lyme Disease is a multisystem illness caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a spirochete transmitted by certain species of Ixodes ticks, including the highly prevalent Deer tick. Approximately 30,000 confirmed and probable cases of Lyme Disease were reported in the US during 2012, primarily from high-incidence states in the Northeast which include: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Cases were also reported in the upper Midwest.
According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Lyme Disease is the 3rd most notifiable disease in Maryland and the most common tick-borne illness reported in the state. This data suggests the importance of keeping you and your family safe from ticks in Montgomery County, MD to avoid Lyme Disease. For residents across Maryland, protecting yourself and your family from the dangers of Lyme Disease needs to encompass year-round awareness, not just during the typical tick-active periods during hot weather. Even in winter, ticks can bite on warm days, and climate change is lengthening the seasons when ticks are most active which makes reducing the risk of contracting a tick-borne illness a challenge. This regional epidemic has begun to trigger a broad public health response on target with prevention campaigns aimed at some other vector-borne illnesses, such as West Nile Virus which is spread by mosquitoes. Ticks are quite a devious foe and require knowledge and awareness to overcome rising deer tick populations within our region.
How Lyme Disease Infects
Lyme Disease is caused by being bitten by a deer tick carrying Borrelia burgdorferi which causes the disease. All sizes of deer ticks are capable of transmission. People and animals, including pets, can become infected with Lyme Disease. The same deer tick that is responsible for Lyme Disease within is also responsible for the spread of other tick-borne illnesses such as Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichiosis. It is also very possible for the deer tick to infect its host with more than one germ in a single bite, which is referred to as comorbidity.
The disease can affect the skin, joints, heart and nervous systems of its victims. To infect a host, the deer tick which carries the bacteria has to remain attached on its host for at least 24 hours to spread the disease. Lyme Disease displays symptoms in multiple phases of which the first, called the early stage, and is often, but not always, characterized by a rash on the location of the bite area that resembles bullseye or donut. The rash, medically referred to as erythema migrans, begins as a small red area that progresses outward hence the comparison to a bulls-eye. Early stage symptoms may also include fever, fatigue, lethargy, depression, stiff neck, muscle, and joint soreness and headaches. In many cases, the early stages of the disease are mistaken for the flu and are unreported or misdiagnosed. These early-stage symptoms usually appear 3 to 30 days after being bitten by an infected tick, and as with any occurrence of finding a tick attached to your body, you should remove the tick properly and keep the tick in a container and date it should any problems arise or if the tick is needed to further test for the presence of disease. Later stages of Lyme disease can become evident weeks and even years after being infected.
Bulls-Eye Rash Associated with Lyme Disease
When caught early, most people recover quickly from the disease with antibiotics, but up to 25% of people report feeling unwell after treatment — sometimes for months or years. There is enormous controversy among doctors and members of the public about why these patients are sick and how long symptoms can last. But there is no doubt that Lyme is a significant health threat. Untreated, the disease can cause a range of symptoms, from facial paralysis to arthritis and heart problems, to more common complaints of fatigue and headaches. Deer ticks are known vectors of transmission of four other diseases to humans, and this past summer a new disease was added to that list. This new disease is not yet named, but closely resembles Lyme Disease and is spread by the deer tick by a newly discovered bacteria called Borrelia miyamotoi. This new illness might even explain cases of what looked like chronic Lyme Disease but did not test positive for Lyme.
How To Stay Healthy
The most effective way for Maryland residents to reduce the risk of becoming infected is to raise awareness of the factors that contribute to the disease and educating residents on how to avoid and prevent ticks. To avoid and prevent ticks, you are urged to take control of your property to make it less hospitable for ticks and to exercise good tick sense. Since ticks lurk and thrive in brushy wooded areas, and high grass, keeping your property trimmed, mowed and free of debris and deadfall is a good starting point. Wood and brush piles, fences and rock piles are favorites among ticks, and these areas should be kept tidy, and you should not allow your yard or underlying areas to become overgrown or unkempt.
It is a wise choice to avoid areas where you know a tick infestation may be lurking and to contact a licensed professional to have these areas treated to eliminate the ticks. Whenever frequenting an area that might be a possible hot spot for ticks, make sure you wear appropriate clothing and shoes and frequently check yourself for ticks. Lighter colored clothing makes detecting a tick easier. Make sure to shower immediately upon returning home from any outside endeavor within potentially tick-infested areas. Conduct regular inspections on your pets when venturing outdoors. With pets, even if your pets are on topical tick preventative, this does not guarantee against a tick hitching a ride to on your dog or cats fur only to feed on you later. Small children should also be checked thoroughly after outdoor play.
Part of our highly effective tick prevention and control program here at Mosquito Squad of Greater Washington DC includes the use of tick tubes. Tick tubes are small tubes filled with cotton that has been treated with an insecticide formulated to eradicate ticks. We place the tubes at random locations throughout your property where mice are likely to reside, such as the edges of wooded areas, and on the outskirts of tall grassy areas. The mice will use the treated cotton within the tick tubes to build their nests and in doing so will eradicate the deer tick that feeds off the mice during the ticks early stage of life. By eliminating the tick before it evolves to feed off other mammals, including humans, you decrease the chances of being bitten within your property. Tick tube implementation, when used in conjunction with our barrier treatment program, can reduce the number of Lyme infected ticks on your property by up to 90%.
Mosquito Squad of Greater Washington DC wants you to be aware of the dangers of Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illness, the reality of the disease and to educate residents on ways to avoid the disease. An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure, especially where tick-borne diseases and illnesses are concerned. To learn more about the way to prevent ticks in your backyard contact us today for a free quote.
Remember the key to a healthy, happy insect-free season starts in your backyard!