Summer is almost here and with the hot sunny days comes tick season. Authorities and health experts are providing necessary guidelines to prevent civilians from the Lyme disease.

Lyme Borreliosis, better known as Lyme disease, is a bacteria that causes an infectious disease in humans. The infection is spread by a tick bite that evolves in redness on the skin around a week after a bite.

The disease affects most commonly rural parts of the country and was named after a Connecticut town with the same name.

Patients that have to suffer from the disease have experienced symptoms such as fever, headache, and tiredness. If the infection is not treated at the time, patients might lose the ability to move the face, suffer from massive headaches, joint pains, heart palpitations, among others.

Authorities and health experts are providing necessary guidelines to prevent civilians from the Lyme disease. Photo credit: Allen County Department of Health
Authorities and health experts are providing necessary guidelines to prevent civilians from the Lyme disease. Photo credit: Allen County Department of Health

After being infected by the disease, patients present joint pains, headaches and swelling months and years after being bitten by a tick. Experts assure the most important caution measure is awareness.

Lyme disease can only be transmitted if the tick has been attached to a person’s body for at least 36 hours, if not the disease is unable to spread. The diagnosis of the disease is made by the symptoms presented in the patient, given the fact that blood tests tend to appear negative when searching for it.

When a patient is correctly diagnosed with the disease, medical authorities treat the infection with appropriate antibiotics for a proper recovery.  Antibiotics used to fight the infection include doxycycline, amoxicillin or cefuroxime axetil.

The disease has become more common in the United States over the years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On 2014, 96 percent of  Lyme disease cases were confirmed in 14 states of the U.S. that include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, among others.

The CDC categorized the infection in 2014 as the most commonly reported vectorborne illness in the country, as well  as the fifth most common Nationally Notifiable disease. Lyme disease occurs mostly at the northeast and upper Midwest of the country.

Efforts to fight the disease

Several studies have been held to understand the most efficient way to fight Lyme disease in the country, especially by The National Institutes of Health (NIH) that has evaluated the treatment and recovery of patients with the disease, concluding that the most efficient way to treat the disease is by oral antibiotics treatment.

The state of Connecticut has issued several efforts to fight the disease in its territory, developing in the first place an integrated tick management project that centers in prevention and tick control.

The Western Connecticut Health Network also issued a study, known as the Lyme Disease Registry, that consists of a database of patients that have suffered from the disease in order to create a better Lyme disease test.

These efforts have been made especially in the rural area of Redding Connecticut and by Dr.Kirby C. Stafford III, who is an entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES).

Stafford has led a team to initiate an investigation on prevention methods for the disease and has developed several rodent bait boxes a rodent vaccine and biopesticide deer spray. The main objective is to determine if they are effective for common use.

“The bait boxes and deer spray are currently commercially available,  but the vaccine is under licensing by the USDA,” said Stafford to Connecticut’s eastern courier.

Prevention methods

Ticks are commonly located in green areas and in animals in warmer months, especially between April and September. The CDC recommends civilians to avoid wooded and brushy areas that may contain high grass or lead litters to prevent Lyme disease as well as walking in the center of trails.

Repellents are the most effective way to assure protection, CDC recommends those with 20 to 30%  N,N-Diethyl- meta- toluamide (DEET) ingredient, an active insect repellent.  The product must be applied to exposed skin and in clothing.

Clothing is also essential to preventing tick bites. Wearing long sleeves and pants might prevent civilians from suffering Lyme disease.

When finding a tick on the body is important to understand the process of removing it, bathing is recommended to wash possible ticks crawling. Parents are advised to check their children under the arms, behind the ears, in the belly button, behind the knees, around the waist, and in the hair.

Having pets can increase the possibilities of having ticks in the house and in the body. Experts advise a constant check up of the pet’s body, especially after returning from a trip outdoors. If the tick is located on clothing it is advised to throw the piece of clothing in the dryer with a high heat for 10 minutes or more depending on the clothing.

Tweezers are the recommended choice for removing ticks from the skin. Grasping the tick as close as possible is recommended. To properly remove the insect from the body, the tick needs to be pulled upwards with pressure, without twisting or crushing the tick.

If a tick is crushed or poorly removed from the body parts of the insect can remain in the body, after removing the tick it is recommended to clean the bitten area with alcohol, soap, and water. The tick must be thrown away after submerging it on alcohol.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention