DISEASE FACT SHEET:
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO PROTECT
YOU AND YOUR FAMILY FROM THIS THREAT..
This year, the
potential for Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses to reach problematic
levels in Rensselaer County is very high. Ticks may carry several different
diseases including: Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, and Rocky Mountain
Spotted Fever. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in Rensselaer
County. Health experts attribute the rise in Lyme-disease reported cases to
several causes, including the change in migratory bird paths, an increase in
wildlife habitat, and rising deer herd populations. All agree that individuals
visiting, working, or recreating in outdoor habitat areas should be aware of the
dangers of Lyme disease. Therefore, this fact sheet is being offered by the
Rensselaer County Management Council to help you understand more about this
serious issue, and to educate you about ways to protect you and your family from
the threat of Lyme disease.
WHAT IS LYME
Disease (LD) is an infection caused by the bite of a deer tick (IXODES
SCAPULARIS) that has been infected with the disease. Not all ticks are infected,
so a tick bite does not always result in LD. However, when the tick that is
carrying the infection (Borrelia burgdorfen) bites a human, it is very important
that the person receive medical treatment as soon as possible. LD emerges as a
skin rash and can continue to manifest itself in the body involving joints, the
nervous system, and/or heart.
takes 1-2 days for an infected tick to transmit Lyme Disease to a human. That is
why it is incredibly important to inspect yourself and youngsters for ticks
every 2-3 hours while in the field. A full body check should be done at home,
and pets should be checked for ticks on a regular basis.
and WHEN AM I MOST LIKELY TO PICK UP A TICK?
Ticks are very, very small (sometimes as small as a pencil point!). They cling
to vegetation and are most numerous in woods and leaf litter, high grass, weeds,
and brush. The two-year life cycle of a tick requires that it feed on three
separate hosts through its life, including birds, mice, and deer. The infection
that is transmitted by a juvenile tick is usually picked up from an infected
animal, most often a mouse. The next stage of a tick’s life is spent attached
to vegetation, where it waits to attach itself to a passing human or animal.
Thus, the greatest chance of getting infected with Lyme Disease is May through
July, but you can be infected in all seasons by an adult tick.
DO I REMOVE A TICK WHEN I SEE IT ON MY SKIN?
you see a tick embedded in your skin, the mouthparts will be under tissue with
the body usually exposed. To remove a tick, use tweezers to firmly grip the tick’s
central mouthpart and slowly wiggle it back and forth while pulling gently away.
DO NOT SQUEEZE THE BODY OF THE TICK, as this may force infective fluid into the
bite wound. After removal, wash the bite area thoroughly and apply antiseptic.
SAVE THE TICK in a jar with alcohol or place the jar in your freezer. In the
event that symptoms arise, identification and testing of the tick will help your
physician in his\her diagnosis.
ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF LYME DISEASE?
Stages- In the early stages, the first symptom usually noticed is a skin
rash that occurs at the site of the tick bite. The actual tick may go
undetected. The rash, which begins 3 days to one month after the tick bite,
begins as a small red area which gradually enlarges, often with a partial
clearing in the center of the lesion so that it resembles a donut or bulls-eye.
Complaints of burning or itching are common. However, 40% of those with LD may
not have the early skin rash, and symptoms may appear only in the later stages
of the disease.
Stages- Later stage symptoms most often include complications of the
joints, the nervous system, and the heart. These typically appear weeks to
months after the initial symptoms. Joint complications usually mirror
arthritis-like conditions and affect the larger joints such as the knee, elbow,
and wrist. Pain and swelling or stiffness can move from joint-to-joint, and can
become chronic. The most common neurological symptoms include severe headache
and stiff neck, facial paralysis, and weakness and\or pain in the chest or
extremities. These symptoms can persist for weeks, often fluctuate in severity,
and may respond to intravenous antibiotics. PROMPT DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
IS KEY TO MINIMIZING THE
EFFECTS OF THIS DISEASE!!
antibiotic treatment is beneficial in the early stages of the illness and often
prevents late complications. Amoxicillin and doxycycline are the most effective
drugs. In children, amoxicillin is preferred. For late-stage complications, high
dose intravenous penicillin or ceftriaxone is often effective.
LYME DISEASE BE PREVENTED?
and\or your family decide to visit an area that is conducive to deer ticks,
there are measures you can take to minimize your exposure to Lyme Disease. These
- Wear a long-sleeved
- Wear long pants and
high socks, tucking your pants into your socks
- If possible, wear
light-colored garments, as it makes it easier to spot ticks
- Use a repellant
containing low levels of DEET (N, N-diethyltoluamide) on clothing and
regular "tick checks". Ticks are most often found on the thigh,
groin, arms, underarms, and legs. Remember
that immature ticks are very small. Look for
new "freckles"…they might be a tick.
USE OF DEET
chemical N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide- is the most commonly used insect repellant.
However, it must be used with caution. While effective in combating mosquitoes,
it is a powerful chemical which has been associated with a wide array of adverse
reactions. The New York State Department of Health recommends the following
- Store DEET
containers out of the reach of children;
- Do not let young
children apply DEET to themselves;
- Do NOT apply DEET
directly to children- apply it to your hands and then put it on children
with your hands. Use a product with less than 10% DEET on children;
- Avoid children’s
face and hands, and apply sparingly;
- Do NOT apply indoors
or directly to your face;
- DEET may affect some
synthetic fabrics and plastic;
- Wash all treated
skin and clothing after returning from outdoors.
All facts taken from NYSDOH literature and advisory notices. For more
information call 270-2888