Beware of the Tick!

August 20, 2020

Black-legged ticks have long reigned terror across the nation as they are the carrier of Lyme disease. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne infectious disease, reaching epidemic levels with more than 300,000 cases reported each year. Northeastern parts of the U.S. are particularly troublesome since they have the highest incidence rates in the country. When caught and treated early, Lyme disease is quickly treated in most cases. However, if left alone, it can cause long term issues.

The Dangers of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease’s initial symptoms are fever, headache, fatigue, and rash, which often looks like a bullseye. Most cases can be treated with antibiotics over a few weeks. In more severe cases or ones that go undetected, the infection can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system.

Although 70-80% of the cases develop a rash, but not every case does, and not all look like a bullseye. In the absence of a rash, most severe cases are unaware an infected tick has bitten them; therefore, they do not seek treatment.

Prevalence in Children

Annually, approximately 75,000 children and adolescents are diagnosed with Lyme disease. That is more than all combined pediatric cancer cases, type 1 diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and epilepsy. Children aged 5-9 are the highest affected simply because of how Lyme disease is transmitted. Adult ticks are about the size of a sesame seed, and the babies are the size of a poppy seed and are hardest to see. They thrive in areas overgrown with grass, brush, and leaf litter.

The ticks wait for animals or humans to pass by as they sit waiting on top of the grass and leaves with top arms outstretched, and bottom arms are holding on. Once they hitch a ride, they are found on the scalp, armpits, and groin area. It takes 3-4 days of attachment for the bacterium to be transmitted. Avoiding tick hot spots, checking your body after being outside, and other preventative measures can help tremendously.

The Future of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed or missed altogether due to the unreliability of tests. Clinical research studies are bringing us closer to obtaining accurate diagnostic options for Lyme disease. ActivMed is currently looking for adult and child participants for a Lyme disease study looking into new possibilities. Healthy volunteers without a history of Lyme disease and those just diagnosed are needed.

To learn more, please select your nearest location:

Beverly, MA

Methuen, MA

Portsmouth, NH

References:

http://www.childrenslymenetwork.org/children-lyme/lyme-disease-overview

https://manchesterinklink.com/tick-talk-lyme-disease-prevention-tips-nh-dhhs

https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/transmission/index.html

 

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