|What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a potentially serious disease carried by deer ticks. The symptoms of Lyme disease vary from one person to another. Frequently, but not always, patients initially develop a darkened area at the site of the tick attachment that resembles a bull's eye. They also may experience some combination of fatigue, fever, flu-like achiness and joint pain. As the infection progresses there can be arthritis, neurological and heart related symptoms, as well as visual impairment.
What does the deer tick look like?
The juvenile deer tick, or nymph, is abundant in late spring and summer and is about the size of a poppy seed. It is black in color. Adult ticks are active throughout the fall, warm winter days and early spring and are about the size of a sesame seed. Adult females (seen much more often on humans than males) are black toward the front and a dull red toward the rear.
What can I do to prevent Lyme disease in myself, my family and pets?
If you spend a lot of time in tick habitat, take these precautions:
- Unless you have a medical reason not to wear insect repellant containing DEET; Follow manufacture's directions.
- Be vigilant for deer ticks - frequent tick checks and a daily full-body inspection are a must.
- Promptly remove any ticks that are attached to the body using fine-tipped tweezers; take a pair of tweezers with you into the field and thorough inspections are the first line of defense against Lyme Disease. Remember that the bacteria that causes Lyme disease begins to move from the tick to the person beginning 36 hours after the tick has attached and begun to feed. Prompt removal will prevent disease.
- Always thoroughly wash your hands and instruments immediately after handling ticks of any type
- Talk to your veterinarian about tick repellents and Lyme disease vaccination for dogs that go into tick habitat.
For more information about Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).