Ticks that are possible Lyme disease carriers are now present in more than half the counties in the United States. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study reveals that multiple varieties of the blacklegged tick that carries the severely harmful disease have been spotted in 45 percent of American counties. The population of Borrelia burgdorferi carrying ticks is up 15 percent from a similar study conducted in 1998. The ticks that can spread Lyme disease now live in almost half of U.S. counties, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Over the past two decades, the number of Lyme disease cases in the United States has more than tripled, according to the Scientific American. The blacklegged tick, or the Ixodes scapularis, also commonly referred to as deer ticks, are known to live in both grassy and wooded areas. During the spring and summer months when outdoor activity peaks, so do the number of Lyme disease cases.
“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,”CDC study lead author Rebecca Eisen, said, according to Reuters.
— Scientific American (@sciam) January 19, 2016
If caught during the early stages, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. But, when the tick disease goes undetected or untreated, long-lasting and life-changing conditions can occur. Initial symptoms of Lyme disease often reportedly mimic those of the flu. Sometimes sufferers develop a “bull’s eye”=looking rash not long after being bitten by a deer tick.
When left untreated, Lyme disease can cause significant cognitive issues, mood disorders, and painful muscle and joint problems.
— Health magazine (@goodhealth) January 20, 2016
CDC researches uses surveillance methods, and county data reports to compile the Lyme disease information in the federal agency’s recently released report. There are 3,110 counties in the continental United States — deer ticks were detected in 1,420 of them. Ticks of the western blacklegged variety were found in 11 of American counties.
In addition to the number of overall detection of the presence of ticks in U.S. counties, the CDC report also stated that tick colonies were now “established” in 843 counties in 35 different states. During the 1998 Lyme disease study, establishments of ticks were only found in 396 counties in 32 states across the continental United States.
The CDC also found report that during the earlier study western blacklegged ticks were only established in six states, scattered across 95 counties. The vast majority of the ticks were found in states along the Pacific coast.
Mayo Clinic parasitologist Dr. Bobbi Pritt blames climate change, at least in part, for the explosion of the tick population.
“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,” Dr. Pritt said.
To decrease the chance of getting “bitten” by a blood-sucking tick and contracting Lyme disease, experts from the Center for Research on Biotoxin Associated Illness recommend spraying the skin with insect repellents that contain DEET — lemon permethrin. Those who favor natural remedies often use tea tree oil or witch hazel to deter ticks. Wearing long sleeves and pants with the legs of the trousers tucked into the boots and socks is also advised.
Throwing clothes worn when outdoors directly into the dryer for about 20 minutes is also believed to be a quick and easy way to kill ticks attached to the apparel. Doing a check of yourself and your pets to make sure that no ticks have attached themselves after being outdoors and before entering your vehicle or home is also advised. When a tick is found, researchers have urged the taking of the insect to local health officials so that it can be tested for Lyme disease.
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