May is Lyme disease awareness month. Check out the infographic below for key information about ticks and Lyme disease, and don't forget to share it with your friends and family.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease (also known as Lyme borreliosis) is a bacterial infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a spirochete with a distinctive spiral shape.
Why is it called Lyme disease?
Lyme disease was first detected in 1976 in Lyme, Connecticut, when an unusually large number of children suffering similar symptoms came down with an unidentified illness.
How is Lyme disease contracted?
Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of the parasitic blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis or Ixodes pacificus), also known as the deer tick. This tiny (one-eighth of an inch and smaller) hard-bodied tick is a common pest that can be found in the deep wooded areas as well as in areas of tall grass, including lawns and yards.
How do ticks bite?
Like all ticks, the deer tick is a bloodsucking ectoparasite. When they bite, ticks embed their mouthparts into their host. They then inject an anti-clotting agent to keep the blood from clotting so they can feed. Adult ticks can stay attached to their host for as long as a week.
Do all ticks carry Lyme disease?
No. In fact, not even all deer ticks carry Lyme disease. Borrelia burgdorferi is most present in the saliva of young ticks, called nymphs. Consequently, individuals are most at risk for contracting Lyme disease beginning in late spring and early summer.
How can I avoid contracting Lyme disease?
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to take steps to reduce the chances you will come into contact with the ticks that carry the disease.
How can I avoid ticks and tick bites?
- Keep your lawn and yard mowed and eliminate any tick-friendly environments on your property.
- Check your dogs frequently for ticks.
- If you are hiking or camping, avoid brushy areas or high grass and be sure to wear protective clothing, especially on your legs and lower body.
- Treat your clothes and skin with an over-the-counter, DEET-based insect repellent.
- Perform a full-body inspection for ticks or tick bites as soon as you return from any outdoor activities that may have exposed you to these pests.
- Any ticks you discover on your body should be removed immediately with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers.