Lyme Disease has spread to nearly half of the counties in the United States, leaving people worried and concerned. Lyme Disease is caused by bacteria known as Borrelia. Science Magazine shares the seriousness of this disease that is causing sickness throughout the U.S.
Over the past couple decades, Lyme Disease as nearly tripled and affects nearly 300,000 people in the United States each year. Lyme Disease often causes a rash to appear around the tick bite and if caught early, Lyme Disease can be treated with simple antibiotics. However, if the Lyme Disease goes unnoticed and untreated, problems such as brain and joint inflammation, as well as nerve pain can quickly occur. Common symptoms can often be confused with the flu, as Lyme Disease can cause fatigue, headaches and fever.
The Journal of Medical Entomology reports the blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick, has doubled it’s range in the past two decades, and is now being found in nearly half of all counties in the United States. The western blacklegged tick, more rare than the blacklegged tick, has increased just a small bit and is only seen in six Pacific Coast States.
Parasitologist Isis Arsnoe from Michigan State University published a study in PLOS ONE last year, proving that the north half of the United States are at higher risk of contracting Lyme Disease. Arsnoe explains that the blacklegged tick in the north is more actively seeking out a host than those in the south, however, he is concerned that they will spread from the north to the south, taking their behaviors with them.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to avoid thick vegetation areas, use a repellent when outside and take a shower immediately after coming inside to help lower your risk of contracting Lyme Disease. A lead study author Rebecca Eisen, a research biologist at the CDC shared this statement by email according to the New York Post.
“It’s important for people to be aware that there may be ticks in areas where they haven’t seen them previously so that they can take steps to help protect themselves and their families…”
The New York Post also states that the Director of Clinical Parasitology at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Bobbi Pritt makes a statement about the spreading Lyme Disease, although he admits that he was not a part of the recent study.
“Warmer temperatures, increases in rainfall, and milder winters can favor tick survival. These factors can also favor survival and expansion of the mammals and birds that the ticks feed on.”
According to CBS News, the largest geographic expansion occurred in states such as Ohio, New York, Wisconsin, Vermont and Minnesota. Dr. John Aucott, Director of the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center tells CBS News that the study completed in 1996 versus the study completed recently in 2015 shows where the ticks were originally when the United States deforested and where deer were “hunted almost to extinction,” and how they have returned to reclaim their territory as we reforest and the deer population has increased.
Take precautions to avoid tick bites and Lyme Disease. CDC also recommends taking the following steps to lower your risk of contracting Lyme Disease.
- Use repellents with at least 20 percent DEET on skin that is exposed, as well as on your clothing for protection.
- Walk in the middle of trails and avoid walking through grassy, brushy and wooded areas.
- Products that contain permethrin are great to treat your boots, clothing and gear with.
- As soon as you come indoors, shower so that you can wash off and easily find ticks.
- Stand in front of a mirror and do a full body search for ticks.
- Search your clothing, gear and pets for ticks regularly.
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