Lyme Disease

What is it?

Lyme disease is a infection that is transmitted from blacklegged ticks or deer ticks to humans via a bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi. It can affect organ systems, muscles, joints, brain, and nervous system. It is not typically seen as a fatal disease but can reach a chronic stage if left untreated. It is curable and someone can become reinfected at a later date.

How do you get it?

The bacteria is generally transmitted to people from ticks that are in the nymph stage. This is because the tick at this stage in its life cycle is so small that the person will not feel the bite, allowing the tick to stay attached longer. Typically, the tick must be attached for 36 hours for the bacteria to get transferred. It cannot be transmitted between people or from other animals, a person must have been bitten by an infected tick.

You can find ticks:


April-November = prime tick season

In temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit ticks are dormant. Late spring to early summer is when the immature or nymphal tick stage exits the dormancy stage. By fall the ticks have matured into their adult state.


Ticks cannot jump, so they have to find a way to latch onto their host. Making areas of grasses, weeds, leaf litter, shrubs etc. ideal for tick living for them to be able to reach potential hosts. When animals walk by the ticks can cling to fur, feathers, or even clothing.

Where is it most common?

Most reported cases in the United States according to the CDC are in the Northeast and upper Midwest as seen in the map below. However, this may not be entirely accurate because these are only the reported cases.
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Cases of Lyme Disease

The graph below is showing the number of reported cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. Also included are estimates of unreported cases. Worldwide the estimates are 300,000 people per year that are treated for Lyme Disease.
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Time matters with Lyme...the sooner you check the better

Sometimes the symptoms of Lyme Disease are mistaken for exhaustion,flu-like symptoms, or even arthritis. However, if left untreated the symptoms can worsen and spread throughout the body and affect other symptoms.

What are the treatments for it?

If it is in the early stages, Lyme Disease can be treated with antibiotics. Often this is the answer for a full recovery. Chronic Lyme Disease may have to be treated with a more aggressive, intravenous method. The chronic form can last up to six months before all symptoms are gone.

How do you avoid it?

In tick infested areas if possible avoid leaf-litter, shrubbery, any vegetation. However to be realistic if you spend anytime outside hiking, lawn maintenance, gardening etc. it is essentially impossible unless you live in a desert to avoid tick habitats. These are a list of options that allow you to still enjoy the outdoors safely.
  • Use insect repellent (see directions for use on young children)
  • Wear light colors to more easily see the ticks
  • Avoid walking through heavily brushed areas
  • Wear long-sleeves, pants, and closed shoes.
  • For your clothing tight elastic wrists and ankles

Once you finish you outdoor activities it is IMPORTANT to check for any ticks that may have found their way past all the barriers. Ticks try to hide in protected areas i.e. waste bands, pant legs, sleeves, anywhere there is tighter fitting clothing. Also, areas that have thinner skin i.e. groin, armpit, scalp, ankles etc.

If you find a tick remove it as soon as possible using your fingernails or tweezers to help ensure the whole tick is removed.