Post date: Apr 17, 2014 3:4:46 PM
As the warmer months approach, please be thinking about diseases which may be vector-borne, (transmitted by blood-sucking pests, such as ticks) and prevention.
There are two types of ticks commonly found in Maine, the black legged or Deer tick and the dog tick, although others have been reported, such as the Gulf Coast and Lone Star ticks. The best way to tell the dog and deer tick apart is their scutum or the shield on their back: the deer tick’s is red to orange, while the dog tick’s is light gray or silver. Diseases which are commonly transmitted include Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis.
Tick season runs from April to September as ticks thrive in the warmer months. They are found in wooded areas, brush, tall grass or in piles of leaf litter such as leaves, pine needles and twigs.
Symptoms of tick-borne illness tend to be similar and may include:
rash in many, but not all, cases which varies from erythema migrans or bull’s eye rash to pink, flat spots that do not itch, to ulcers with swollen lymph nodes
flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue, headache and joint or muscle aches
Flu-like symptoms in the summer months, should be reported immediately to your healthcare provider. If diagnosed early, treatment is relatively simple and generally consists of antibiotics as prescribed by your physician.
Things you can do to protect yourself and your family include:
daily tick checks, and bathing within two hours of spending time outside, with careful inspection of hard to see areas, like the armpits, groin, and especially the hair
check pets, clothing and any equipment as ticks can hitch a ride into your home using these items and attach to people later
avoid woody areas with tall grass and leaf litter
walk in the center of trails, avoiding bushes, branches and tall grass
wear long sleeves and long pants when spending time outside in areas ticks may inhabit
wear long socks and tuck pants legs into them
wear light colored clothing - this does not repel ticks, but makes them easier to spot
use repellents containing DEET on skin, or permethrin on clothing, following instructions carefully. More information can be found at: http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/.
If you find a tick, remove it promptly with fine-tipped tweezers. Pinch the tick firmly, as close to the skin as possible, and pull straight up with steady pressure. Do not twist or jerk as this may cause part of the tick to break off. If it does, remove as much as possible with clean tweezers. Clean the area, your hands and the tweezers carefully with soap and warm water.
For more information, visit the Maine Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program website,
http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/vector-borne/index.shtml or the Centers for Disease Control at http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/index.html
Be safe this Spring!
Michele Sadler-Gove, RN-BSN