Growing up my family always checked for ticks after spending time outside. When you live in the country ticks are a part of life. I had heard of Lyme disease, but never knew anyone who had it and I always thought it was one of those rare things that only happened to people you didn’t know.
Not that long ago I met a neighbor who had Lyme diseases. Shortly after I met others through work or acquaintances. After starting my blog and researching other bloggers who might be in my area, I found two more people who also suffer from the disease.
My first reaction to all this was that the disease was spreading faster now than ever before. The truth is more likely to be that doctors are starting to diagnose it better.
So I did some research and this is what I have learned.
In the northeast, Lyme disease is spread through deer ticks, small, blacklegged ticks that must be attached from 36 to 48 hours in order to transmit the disease. This is why it is important to check for ticks every time you head outside. The sooner you find them the less likely the transmission.
Immature deer ticks are called nymphs and can be as small as 2mm. This makes them harder to find and they may likely be the cause of most infections.
According to the CDC…
- There is no evidence that Lyme disease is transmitted from person-to-person. For example, a person cannot get infected from touching, kissing or having sex with a person who has Lyme disease.
- Lyme disease acquired during pregnancy may lead to infection of the placenta and possible stillbirth; however, no negative effects on the fetus have been found when the mother receives appropriate antibiotic treatment. There are no reports of Lyme disease transmission from breast milk.
- Although no cases of Lyme disease have been linked to blood transfusion, scientists have found that the Lyme disease bacteria can live in blood that is stored for donation. Individuals being treated for Lyme disease with an antibiotic should not donate blood. Individuals who have completed antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease may be considered as potential blood donors. Information on the current criteria for blood donation is available on the Red Cross website .
- Although dogs and cats can get Lyme disease, there is no evidence that they spread the disease directly to their owners. However, pets can bring infected ticks into your home or yard. Consider protecting your pet, and possibly yourself, through the use of tick control products for animals.
- You will not get Lyme disease from eating venison or squirrel meat, but in keeping with general food safety principles meat should always be cooked thoroughly. Note that hunting and dressing deer or squirrels may bring you into close contact with infected ticks.
- There is no credible evidence that Lyme disease can be transmitted through air, food, water, or from the bites of mosquitoes, flies, fleas, or lice.
- Ticks not known to transmit Lyme disease include Lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum), the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), the Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni), and the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus).
You can check out the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/transmission/index.html. This site has information on signs and symptoms, diagnosis and treatment and additional resources.
While I do not personally have Lyme disease, I do know that it is painful and that early diagnosis and treatment are important. I also know that the Northeast is a prevalent place for deer ticks.
So, by all means, get out and enjoy the outdoors and all New Hampshire has to offer. But please remember to check for ticks and see a doctor immediately if you’ve been bitten by a tick and show any of these signs:
- Red expanding rash
- Muscle or joint pain
- Swollen nymph nodes
There are two bloggers who I know discuss there on going struggle with Lyme disease and have inspired this post. While it’s not their main topic of discussion, it is a part of who they are.
There are many more out there, though. If you plug in the word Lyme under tags in your reader, you will find a whole list of people blogging about Lyme disease.
I know I will be much more diligent about looking for those pesky insects this spring and you should, too.