Here in Central Maryland, Lyme Disease is an all too familiar occurrence. Every resident either knows someone within their circle of family and friends, or knows of someone just outside that circle that has had a brush with the disease. In Maryland and the entire United States, Lyme Disease is the most common tick-borne illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during 2013, 95% of confirmed Lyme disease cases were reported from 14 states, with Maryland on the list. Much like the theory developed by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929 known as the “six degrees of separation” that suggests everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, Lyme Disease is a bond many Marylanders have in common.
Lyme Disease is contracted through the bite of a deer tick (also known as the blacklegged tick) infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Deer ticks cling to plants near the ground in brushy, wooded, and grassy places. These ticks are quite small and climb onto animals and people who brush against the plants. Very young ticks, called larvae, which are no bigger than the period at the end of a sentence, pick up the bacteria that cause Lyme disease by biting infected animals (predominately rodents). Slightly more mature ticks, called nymphs, which are the size of a poppy-seed, are the stage tick most likely to bite humans. Adult deer ticks can also transmit the disease, but they are not as great a risk as nymphs are because the adults are less likely to infect because they are easier to see and remove.
The disease itself is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood and is often referred to as “the great imitator” because symptoms can often mimic that of other illnesses. Lyme is known to mimic the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, MS, ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as more than some 350 other diseases. When patients do present with a number of infections and coinfections, including other tick-borne infections, it is this complicated presentation that is called Lyme Disease Complex.
It is important to know the symptoms of the disease in order to ensure proper diagnosis and prevent further complications to arise from the illness. If left untreated, Lyme Disease can potentially lead to joint, nervous system, and cardiac system problems. Early symptoms can include the well-known bull’s-eye rash known as Erythema Migrans which presents an outward circular pattern from where the tick was attached. The rash can appear between 3 to 30 days after the bite of an infected tick. However, the rash may not always appear as a symptom. Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, stiff neck, sore and aching muscles and joints, fatigue and swollen glands are also common in the early stages of Lyme disease.
Since there is presently no vaccine for Lyme in humans, prevention is the best method for thwarting the illness. There are many safe practice recommendations to reduce the risk of contracting the disease when venturing into unprotected outdoor settings. These include thoroughly checking yourself, your children and your pets after trips outdoors, showering immediately upon returning from an “at risk” or heavily wooded area, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into your socks. It is also advisable to stay to the middle of paths when in a heavily wooded area, such as those common during hiking or camping.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is the old adage that comes to mind in protecting your home front and reducing your, and your family’s risk of contracting this disease. The impetus of our service is to eliminate and prevent the ticks on your property that could be potential carriers of Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses, no ticks = no risk for disease!
We specialize in a dual tick prevention and control program that targets ticks during each stage of development. Our barrier spray will eliminate adult ticks on contact while tick tubes are placed in key areas on your property, twice a season, to eliminate ticks at their nymph stage. Tick tubes can dramatically decrease the chances of encountering a Lyme infected tick on your property.
Contact Mosquito Squad of Howard County & Montgomery County Maryland to learn more about breaking the bond so many Marylanders have in common, Lyme Disease. You can reach us by phone at (301) 926-3001, or via email at montgomery-county.mosquitosquad.com
We want to wish everyone a safe, happy and healthy New Year!