Lyme disease is serious business here in Massachusetts, and every resident should be aware of the dangers of the disease. Lyme disease is caused by being bitten by a small deer tick which carries the disease. People and animals, including pets, can become infected with Lyme disease. The same deer tick that is responsible for Lyme disease within our state 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.
This information is a lot to grasp that coming into contact with one tick can have the capability of creating so many problems. Even though it is possible to become infected with more than one illness from a single bite, it is rare. In our region Lyme disease is a huge concern because our geography contains everything the deer tick loves and thrives on. Ticks love our brushy, wooded thickets as well as our wood piles and fences. In essence our state has all the makings of the perfect tick habitat. Even though we have cold winters and ticks are most active during the warmer months of the year, ticks can emerge any time throughout the year to feed if the temperatures are above freezing. This means that the dangers of Lyme disease do not end when the kids go back to school, or when the autumn leaves start to fall. Massachusetts residents should take precautions whenever the weather is above freezing, whatever the season.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial disease caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi which can affect the skin, joints, heart and nervous systems of its victims. In order to infect a host, the deer tick which carries the bacteria has to remain attached on its host for at least 24 hours in order to spread the disease. Lyme disease displays symptoms in multiple phases of which the first, called the early stage, is characterized by a rash on the location of the bite area that resembles a bullseye or donut, which starts as a small red area that progresses outward. Early stage symptoms can also include fever, fatigue, stiff neck, muscle and joint soreness and headaches. In many cases the early stages of Lyme 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, your should remove the tick properly and keep the tick in a container and date it should any problems arise or if the tick itself is needed to test for the presence of disease. The Later stages of Lyme disease can become evident weeks and even years after being infected. Later stage symptoms can prove problematic, and seeking treatment early on can decrease the chances of developing later phases of the disease such as Arthritis, Nervous system disorders, including Meningitis and multiple heart problems.
How can I prevent myself and my family from getting Lyme disease?
The most effective way for Massachusetts residents to avoid getting Lyme disease is to raise awareness of the factors that contribute to the disease and educating residents on how to avoid and prevent ticks. In order to avoid and prevent ticks, residents are urged to take control of their property to make it less hospitable for ticks and to exercise good tick sense on and around their property. Since ticks lurk and thrive in brushy wooded areas, and high grass, keeping your property trimmed, mowed and free of debris is the best starting point. Wood piles, fences and rock piles are favorites among ticks and these areas should be kept tidy and not become overgrown or unkempt. It is usually a wise choice to avoid areas where you know a tick infestation may be possible and contacting a licensed professional to have these areas treated to kill the ticks. Whenever dealing with an area that might be a possible tick “hot spot” make sure you wear appropriate clothing and shoes and frequently check yourself for ticks. Lighter colored clothing makes seeing 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 that venture outside, even if the pets are on topical tick preventatives for this does not guarantee against a tick hitching a ride to on your pooches fur only to feed on us later. Small children should also be checked thoroughly after outdoor play.
Another viable option in preventing Lyme disease is to employ the use of tick tubes. Tick tubes are small tubes filled with cotton that has been treated with an insecticide safe for humans and animals, but kills ticks. The insecticide is derived from the Chrysanthemum flower and it shuts down the nervous system of the tick causing death. The tubes can be placed 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 kill the deadly deer tick that feeds off the mice during the ticks early stage of life. By killing the tick before it evolves to feed off other mammals, including humans, you decrease the chances of being bitten within your property by up to 90%. Tick tubes are an innovative approach to the Lyme disease problem.
Mosquito Squad of the North Shore wants you to be aware of the dangers of Lyme disease, the reality of the disease and educate Massachusetts 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 way to prevent ticks in your “neck of the woods” contact Mosquito Squad of the North Shore today.