Transmitted by black-legged ticks that carry Lyme bacteria, Lyme tick disease is a preventable and treatable illness affecting humans and animals who are bitten by an infected tic. Symptoms of Lyme disease mimic the flu-headache, fever and fatigue-except for the characteristically circular rash that surrounds the bite mark within seven to 14 days. Untreated incidences of Lyme disease may result in these symptoms intensifying to include aching joints and possible heart problems. However, a regimen of antibiotics is all that is required to treat Lyme disease, with people cured of the disease shortly after taking prescribed antibiotics.
About Black-Legged Ticks
Also called a "deer tick", the Lyme tick is primarily found in California, Virginia, the New England states, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The bite of an adult Lyme tick is not usually the cause of Lyme disease because these full-grown ticks are large enough to be seen and removed before they can cause infection. Instead, it is the nymph, or immature Lyme tick, that attaches itself to concealed areas such as the scalp, groin and armpits.
Because Lyme tick nymphs are so small (less than .08 of an inch), they often go unnoticed and are allowed to remain on the body long enough for the person to become infected with Lyme disease. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that Lyme ticks need to remain embedded in a person's skin for at least 36 to 48 hours before bacterial transmission takes place. Mostly active in the spring and summer, nymphs prefer wooded areas where they can easily attach to birds, amphibians and rodents.
Other important facts about black-legged ticks include:
It may be weeks, months and possibly years before symptoms of Lyme disease affect someone bitten by the Lyme tick. However, most people will develop flu-like symptoms and the tell-tale, circular rash within a short time after suffering a bite
Ticks secrete a substance at the time of attachment that numbs the bite area to prevent the host from feeling the sting of the bite
Because black-legged ticks need to remain attached for at least a day and a half, the rate of actual transmission of Lyme disease is quite low--less than two percent
- A diagnosis of Lyme disease requires physicians to carefully note symptoms, physical abnormalities, order serological blood tests and assess the risk potential for the patient to have been exposed to areas in which deer ticks thrive
Residents of regions where the Lyme tick is known to live may consider contacting a professional pest control company that has exclusive access to chemicals capable of eliminating a deer tick infestation existing in and around your home. In addition, pet owners should also consider hiring pest control technicians who will treat your living area so that your pets can enjoy an outdoor environment free of black-legged ticks.