What Is Lyme Disease?
476,000 people. That’s how many Americans the CDC estimates will be diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease every year. Unfortunately, New Jersey is a hotspot for the illness and we have a very active deer tick population. Most people know by now the connection between Lyme and deer ticks but as this is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, we think it’s an appropriate time to dive a little deeper into the subject of Lyme and what residents in Essex Fells, Montclair, and across New Jersey can do to minimize their risk.
Defining Lyme disease
In this article, Lyme disease is defined as an infectious multi-system illness caused by the bacterial genus Borrelia and spread by bites of infected deer ticks. Though there is testing available, Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed because it mimics symptoms of many other diseases and health conditions including, but not limited to:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Multiple sclerosis & other autoimmune disorders
How deer ticks in New Jersey get Lyme disease
Not all deer ticks are infected with Lyme disease. Only ones that feed on rodents and other mammals that are already infected with Lyme will become spreaders.
If deer ticks would simply stop taking blood meals, perhaps Lyme disease would go away, right? If only it were that simple. You see, in order for deer ticks to survive and move onto the next stage of their development, they MUST take a blood meal.
Transmission of Lyme disease from deer tick to human
To contract Lyme disease, all it takes is a single bite from one of these infected arachnids (yes, they’re related to spiders and mites). It’s not only adult ticks you have to worry about giving the gift of Lyme; rather immature ticks are more likely to be the source of the illness in humans. Perhaps, it’s because they are so tiny people don’t feel them crawling on or biting their skin.
The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease
Early signs of Lyme disease present as early as three days after the tick bite and include:
- Bull’s eye rash and/or rashes
- Muscle & joint aches
If not caught and treated early on, symptoms of Lyme disease may become more severe and life-altering. Later signs of the disease include, but are not limited to:
- Severe joint pain and swelling
- Nervous system problems (stiff neck, severe headache, facial palsy, etc.)
- Impaired memory and other cognitive defects
- Heart palpitations, chest pain, and other heart problems
Who’s more likely to get Lyme disease?
Anyone who is very active outdoors faces an increased risk of encountering infected deer ticks, especially if they spend time in wooded areas, veer off established hiking paths, leave their skin exposed when outdoors, and spend a fair amount of time performing lawn care and landscaping tasks, etc.
How to prevent Lyme disease
To reduce your risk of acquiring Lyme disease, you’ll need to make your property less appealing to these pests. Try the tick prevention tips below:
- Avoid wooded areas
- Mow your lawn regularly
- Trim trees & bushes
- Clear away leaf litter
Other tick prevention tips focus on your personal safety when going outside while ticks are active, and include:
- Wearing light-colored pants and long-sleeved shirts
- Tuck your pants into your socks
- Use insect repellent on your skin and your clothing (be sure to check labels as some repellents cannot be used on your skin)
- Perform regular tick checks
Don’t forget to protect your pets
Since your four-legged family members can get Lyme disease as well and bring ticks in on their fur, it’s important to make sure they’re protected if or when they go outside. Talk with your vet about a tick preventative and make sure you check for ticks after each outdoor excursion.
Arrow Pest Control offers seasonal tick AND mosquito control
Arrow’s Bite Back! Program is a seasonal, monthly program that runs from April through October and is designed to drastically reduce mosquito and tick populations when these pests are most active in New Jersey.
Though we cannot completely eliminate the threat these pests pose, our seasonal mosquito and tick treatments really do bite back. Ready to reclaim your outdoor living space? Reach out today!
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