bad summer, Lyme, tick

This may be an especially bad summer for Lyme disease, according to disease ecologists. This disease is caused by a spirochete transmitted by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks.

Why Will 2017 Be a Bad Summer?

Why are experts worried that 2017 might be intense? The spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, includes white-footed mice as well as white-tailed deer and black-legged ticks in its life cycle. The population of mice in northeastern states has just exploded. As a result, the chance of being exposed to an infected tick has increased as well.

Lyme Disease Is Spreading:

Lyme disease is usually associated with New England states such as Connecticut where it was first identified and named. Pennsylvania and New Jersey also have significant numbers of cases, however. In fact, the disease has spread far beyond New England, westward and southward. So there is a good likelihood it will be a bad summer for Lyme in nearly half of the country.

Approximately 300,000 US residents may be infected every year. Lyme disease can cause serious complications if it is left untreated, but prompt treatment with antibiotics can usually eliminate the pathogen.

Protecting Yourself:

Experts recommend daily tick checks and removal of any ticks with tweezers. Wearing insect repellent is smart when you are out in the woods, but remember that deer ticks happily hang out in yards as well. The young ones are tiny, no bigger than a poppy seed, so the tick check needs to be extremely thorough. Parents should check their children. When you find a tick, don’t freak out or use flames or Vaseline. Just use a tick removal tool or a simple tweezer to pull it straight out, gripping it as close to the skin as possible.

If you develop a rash or fever, be sure to tell the doctor about your tick bite. See the doctor if you have such symptoms even if you don’t remember a tick biting you. In a bad summer for Lyme disease, it’s better to be cautious.

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  1. Barbara
    Chapel Hill, NC

    Last September I had several ‘insect’ bites that flared up, large red area around each bite, which would not heal nor stop itching. I initially thought this may be poison ivy, but I had been camping several weeks earlier in an area with a heavy deer population. I noticed this irritation while driving cross country after scratching through denim jeans all day and part of the night. After showering, I examined the area and saw bite areas..I did not see a tick. When these areas only became redder and larger, I started to use cortisone cream to stop the itching. At the beginning of October, I went to a Doctor in a Chapel Hill practice where I had been a patient several years previously (Pediatrics and Internal Medicine) and expressed my concerns regarding Lyme disease from deer tick. I requested either testing or preferably a early treatment dosage of Doxycycline for this, I was denied! I was told (contrary to my knowledge) that “we don’t have Lyme disease in this area” and the medical opinion was that the redness was from ‘scratching’. Foolishly, I accepted this advise. Over the Winter/Spring, I began to have joint pain. In May, I sought diagnosis and treatment from a “Lyme-Literate’ physician recommended by Lyme disease websites. The Western blot test from IGeneX tick born disease speciality lab in Palo Alto came back POSITIVE for active Lyme Disease. I am now facing hard core antibiotic treatment in an attempt to fight this disease. What is the problem with physicians in North Carolina? In asking for preventive treatment, I was treated the same as though I was a drug addict off the street asking for narcotics!

  2. John

    A few years ago there was a series of shots offered for Lyme’s disease. Don’t know how effective or if it is offered any more. There is a tool for the removal of ticks that is not a tweezers. I have one that I haven’t used yet.

  3. John
    Croydon, PA

    After getting Lyme disease, I read that a Lyme disease vaccine could have been made available over a decade ago. Our crazy pharmaceutical/legal system made it cost-ineffective to deal with vaccination problems. Ticks can carry a number of other diseases. So, vaccination for Lyme would not prevent those.

  4. Patricia
    Blue Mountains, NSW,Australia

    I am puzzled by your recommendations for tick removal. In Australia we are specifically told not to try to pull the tick out as the squeezing may leave the head embedded and can also cause the tick to squirt liquid into the wound which is just what is not needed. Kill the tick first by smothering it, yes probably Vaseline would work, or applying alcohol such as methylated spirits.

    • Pat, President Lyme Disease Association

      Improper tick removal can greatly increase your risk of infection. You should not put any substance on the tick before removal, nor should you put a hot match on the tick to try and make it back out. The problem is, if you do those things, the tick may then regurgitate any organisms it has in it into you, and ticks are now carrying more than one disease. Proper tick removal: You need to take pointed tweezers as close to the skin as possible at the head end of the tick, NOT on the body of the tick, and pull straight out, no twisting. Special tick removal tools are also good, the kind with a slit, as you are then able to remove the tick without squeezing the body in any way. Do not touch the tick with your fingers. Put antiseptic on the bite site. Wash your hands.

      For tick disposal, fold into a piece of tape. For tick identification, place in a baggie and take to your doctor, or check with your health department, or with a university cooperative extension program. Ticks can be sent to certain labs for testing for various diseases for a cost, but remember, you have to wait for results and some tick-borne diseases can be transmitted quickly.

  5. Marie
    New Hampshire

    My sister got Lyme 20 years ago, and didn’t know what the bite was. Lyme opened the way for ALS, and now she is confined to a wheelchair. This disease is really serious and we need not only better treatment, but a vaccine.

  6. Rick

    What is diagnosed as Lyme disease may not be Lyme disease

  7. Pamela

    What’s wrong about using Vasoline on ticks? I’ve always used it because it works so good. The tick releases its hold and nothing is left behind.

  8. Sheri

    Chronic Lyme is real, although most MDs will tell you it’s not. It’s time that the chronic form of this disease is taken seriously. And if a doctor tells you “we don’t have Lyme in this area” run for the hills. It is absurd and dangerous to make such a claim based on geographic location. Places that used to have rare cases of Lyme are now becoming endemic regions.

    Sadly, that is what my doctor told me years ago. The damage has been done. Healing from chronic Lyme is painful, difficult and expensive as most insurance companies do not pay for treatments. It is my hope that more attention will be paid to this tricky sickness.

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