Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in Maine. May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month in Maine, so remember to do your tick checks! With the mild winter, it is never too early to start thinking about tick prevention.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is carried by Ixodes scapularis (the deer tick). Maine had a record high number of cases in 2011, with positives occurring in all 16 counties. Lyme disease is most common among school aged children and middle aged adults. As the weather begins to get warmer, more ticks will be out in the open. Most Lyme disease infections in Maine occur during the summer months.
The most common early symptom of Lyme disease is an expanding red rash that occurs 3 – 30 days after being bitten. Fever, joint, and muscle pains may also occur. Lyme disease is treatable, and the majority of patients recover after receiving appropriate therapy.
Lyme disease is a preventable illness. Maine CDC recommends following the “No Ticks 4 ME” approach which includes:
- Wear protective clothing
- Use an EPA approved repellent
- Perform daily tick checks
- Use caution in tick habitats
Ticks must be attached for at least 24 hours for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease to be transmitted, so prompt removal of ticks is extremely important. Anyone with a known tick bite, or who spends time in a tick habitat, should watch for symptoms for at least 30 days after exposure. If symptoms develop, call your healthcare provider.
- Maine CDC has numerous educational materials available on their website at www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/vector-borne/lyme/index.shtml.
- UMaine Extension Bulletin #5047, Ticks.