LYME DISEASE, EHRLICHIOSIS, BABESIOSIS
Lyme disease is an illness caused by a spirochete, a corkscrew shaped bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacteria are spread by the bite of an infected tick (Ixodes scapularis) commonly known as the deer tick. The tick is about the size of a poppy seed (or the period at the end of a sentence) when in its nymphal (immature) stage.
The Redding Health Department has identified Lyme disease as the most commonly reported disease in Redding. The woodsy character of Redding along with its current overpopulation of deer increases the risk of exposure to deer ticks.
SIGNS, SYMPTOMS, TREATMENT
Some may experience symptoms and others may not. Contact your physician if symptoms occur. Early response to symptoms with prompt treatment helps prevent complications.
Just when you thought Lyme disease was enough to be concerned about, Ehrlichiosis has quickly emerged as another tick borne disease. The distribution of the Ehrlichiosis infection in Connecticut very much mirrors that of Lyme disease. There were 544 confirmed cases from 1995 to 2000, covering all 8 counties.
Ehrlichiosis is a general name used to describe several bacterial diseases that affect animals and humans. Currently, three species of ehrlichia (pronounced err-lick-ee-uh) in the United States and one in Japan are known to cause disease in humans. It’s a disease, like Lyme and Babesiosis, which is transmitted in our region by the bite of an infected blacklegged or deer tick.
SIGNS, SYMPTOMS, TREATMENT
The severity of Ehrlichiosis is partly related to the health of the immune system of the patient. It’s possible, as with West Nile Virus, that those who become infected develop only mild symptoms and do not become ill at all. The important thing is to not ignore or tolerate symptoms. Ehrlichiosis can be a severe illness, and sometimes fatal if left untreated.
An Ehrlichiosis diagnosis is based on a combination of clinical signs, symptoms, and confirmatory laboratory tests. Blood sample tests indicative of ehrlichiosis include a low white blood cell count, a low platelet count, and elevated liver enzymes. Tests may be negative in the early stages and are more accurate from specimens obtained during the third week of illness. Some immunity develops to the disease but this is thought to wane after a year or so and allow some patients to become re-infected in the future.
The transmission of Ehrlichiosis from an infected attached tick can occur within 24 hours, unlike Lyme disease, which usually takes longer (24-48 hours). This emphasizes the importance of getting the tick off as soon as possible. Be sure and use bent nose needle nose tweezers, not your hands.
Babesiosis is a newly recognized disease in humans. It was previously only documented in wild and domestic animals such as cattle. The first human case in the US was recognized in 1968. Approximately 1000 cases of babesiosis have been reported in Connecticut alone between 1991 and 2007.
Babesiosis is transmitted to humans through the bite of a deer tick, the same tick that transmits Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis. In its younger stages the deer tick feeds primarily on the white-footed mouse and later requires a blood meal from a medium to large size herd mammal (primarily deer) to reproduce. The increasing deer and tick populations are associated with increased tick-borne disease cases.
SIGNS, SYMPTOMS, TREATMENT
HOW TO DRESS TO AVOID A TICK BITE
pants, this creates a barrier.
underarms, leg and scalp) after being outdoors.
clothing as opposed to skin and lasts up to 2 weeks. This product kills ticks.
Follow product directions
on the floor. Ticks can live in the house for a few days depending on humidity.
washing machine, but they cannot tolerate the heat.
easier to see or feel as they become engorged with blood.
remove the tick from the area.
you should contact your physician and have the tick tested by the Redding Health
CAUTION: If a rash or symptoms develop (see Signs, Symptoms above), do not wait for tick test results. Contact your physician immediately. Record the date and site from which the tick was removed.
YARD CARE TO REDUCE TICKS
eliminating bird feeders, keep stone walls tidy. Stone walls are mouse and
learn about the least toxic, most effective application techniques to avoid contaminating water sources or killing beneficial insects.
Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Babesiosis can be prevented on a regional level by reducing the tick population which spreads the disease. The blacklegged or deer tick is dependent on the white tailed deer for successful reproduction. The adult female tick needs a 3 day blood meal from the deer before she can lay her 2000 or more eggs. The increasing deer and tick populations have resulted in increased tick-borne disease cases the past 15 years. Some communities have successfully reduced their tick-transmitted diseases to nearly zero by reducing the deer population back to healthy levels of 10 deer per square mile (from the current 60 or more per square mile recorded in Redding and surrounding towns by Connecticut DEP in January 2009). According to national tick expert Dr. Kirby Stafford, chief entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Station, “Reducing deer densities to below 10 to 12 per square mile has been shown to substantially reduce tick numbers and human Lyme disease.”
Redding is a member of the 18-town Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance, which advocates a cooperative approach to deer population reduction. More information on tick-borne disease, deer ticks, the deer population, and the importance of keeping deer numbers under control can be found at their web site www.deeralliance.com. Brochures on Lyme disease, deer management, and ways to discourage deer and ticks from your property are available in the Redding Health Department (938-2559). The Redding Deer Warden can be reached at 948-2844 to take part in town deer control efforts.
Additional tick-borne disease information can be found at hvceo.org and click on “Tick-borne Illness Resource Center”.