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LGLWSM Newsletter 084 - One Creepy Crawler that Spreads Disease
July 31, 2015

This time of year, all sorts of creepy crawlers are on the loose looking for their next meal! By August, pests of all kinds are breeding at rapid rates!. And although most of them are seemingly harmless to human beings, ticks are one bug you need to avoid at all costs.

Ticks are not only gross, they spread disease… more specifically lyme disease. Other ticks can also make you sick but a deer tick is the one that carries the bacterium that causes the disease…. The caveat is that most people don’t know the difference between the different species.

Another problem is that ticks are very sneaky. They can drop onto you from tree limbs high above or get carried into the house by pets that go outside. If your pets sleep on your bed, ticks can easily find a new host!

Most of the time though, you will feel their creepy crawly legs scooting up your skin. However, if you’re asleep, you probably won’t notice. And once they attach to you, they don’t move much. The saving grace (for most people) is that the area will start to itch. That’s why its vigilant to be very aware of your own body!

know your ticks image

Why is this worth mentioning? Because the incidence of lyme disease is on the rise and has grown steadily over the last decade. About 30,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed annually with the illness, according to the CDC. The disease also affects people living in Asia and North Africa. WHO estimates the total number of cases annually in Europe at 85,000. You just can’t hide from these blood suckers.

This spike is due partly to better reporting practices but it may also be the result of more people moving into suburban housing developments built near reforested areas full of blacklegged (also called deer) ticks. If you see deer regularly where you live, you will need to have your guard up at all times!

Ticks will attach themselves anywhere on your body but the most common sites include the thighs, groin, trunk, armpits, neck, and behind the ears - but honestly, bites can appear anywhere, including the scalp. Remember, its always better to prevent illness!

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

The most common symptom is a bulls-eye rash. The infection spreads gradually from the site of the tick bite into a widening circle. In 60-80 percent of all cases, the first symptom is a rash that:

- Occurs at or near the site of the tick bite. - Is a "bulls- eye" circular patch or solid red patch that grows larger.
- Has a diameter of two to six inches.
- Lasts for about three to five weeks.
- May or may not be warm to the touch.
- Is usually not painful or itchy.
- Sometimes leads to multiple rashes.

Around the time the rash appears, other symptoms may occur such as joint pain, chills, fever and fatigue, but they may seem too mild to require a trip to the doctor. As Lyme disease progresses, severe fatigue, a stiff neck, tingling or numbness in the arms and legs, or facial paralysis can also occur.

The most severe symptoms of Lyme disease may not appear until weeks, months or years after the tick bite. These can include severe headaches, painful arthritis, swelling of the joints, and heart and central nervous system problems.

Treatment of Lyme Disease

When a round of antibiotics is given in the early stages of Lyme disease, recovery is usually rapid and complete. Some common antibiotics prescribed include doxycycline and amoxicillin.

However, in approximately 10 to 20 percent of patients (particularly those who were diagnosed later but also received appropriate antibiotic treatment), may have persistent or recurrent symptoms and are considered to have Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded several studies which show that most patients recover when treated with a few weeks of antibiotics taken by mouth.

Best Practices to Avoid Lyme Disease

  • Walk in the center of trails when hiking, and avoid areas with lots of plants and fallen leaves.

  • Use a repellent that contains 30 percent DEET on exposed skin.

  • Shower as soon as possible after coming indoors. This helps you easily find crawling ticks before they bite you.

  • Remove all attached ticks as soon as possible. The longer they remain attached, the greater chance they have of transmitting disease.

  • Check pets for ticks often.

    I would also suggest that you wash clothing thoroughly after being in wooded areas.

    Most people are so worried about exotic diseases such as Ebola and West Nile, they forget that one of the most problematic diseases are carried by insects we have in our own back yard.

    If you have CATS, ticks are also a big concern. Most cats remove ticks by themselves, but sometimes they attach in areas kitties can’t reach. So do a thorough check of their coat daily, especially if you live in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Cats who spend time outdoors in the southeast and midwestern states are at greatest risk for a deadly disease called cytauxzoonosis. You can find more information here.

    You may have noticed that there hasn't been a newsletter for two months now. First Lars was sick... and then dear old mom caught the virus to trying to help him! It sure has been a challenging summer! Sorry about that my friends!


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    Treatment of Lyme Disease

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