Johnson County Public Health is reporting an increase in the tick-borne Lyme disease. Ticks seem to be plentiful this year and it’s important to know what to do to guard againt Lyme disease, which can be debillitating.
Here is some info from the Iowa Department of Public Health and Johnson County Public Health regarding ticks and Lyme disease:
Ticks pose the greatest threat of transmitting infectious organisms when they bite during the nymphal stage of life. Nymphs are most abundant between May and July. Toward the end of summer through fall, ticks mature to adult stage. Adult ticks can transmit infections to humans, but are less likely to do so, according to the department.
Black-legged ticks, or deer ticks, are responsible for transmitting Lyme disease in Iowa. Deer ticks are very small; adults grow to be about 2 millimeters long. Deer ticks alone do not cause Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by an organism called Borrelia burgdorferi, which live inside some ticks and enter the human body after a tick attaches to the skin. The tick must remain attached for 24 to 48 hours for transmission to occur.
Deer ticks favor a moist, shaded environment, especially areas in wooded, brushy or overgrown grassy habitat. The department recommended frequently checking for ticks and offered the following tips to avoid tick bites:
– Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, and socks when hiking or walking through grassy areas;
– Tuck pant legs inside socks or wear high rubber boots;
– Wear light clothing to see ticks on clothes;
– Wear insect repellent containing DEET when spending time outdoors.
Ticks should be removed using tweezers. Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or other products. Grasp the tick firmly and as closely to the skin as possible. Pull the tick’s body away from the skin and cleanse the area with an antiseptic.
Symptoms of Lyme disease usually appear within seven to 14 days following a tick bite. People may experience a red, slowly expanding “bull’s eye” rash surrounding the tick bite area. Other symptoms include fatigue, head, neck, and muscle aches, fever and joint pain. If untreated, people can develop arthritis, joint swelling and potentially severe heart and neurological conditions.