Lyme Disease, deer tick

5 Things I Bet You Didn’t Know About Lyme Disease

Adventuring in the woods can be one of the most rewarding outdoor experiences; but it can also have its unseen dangers.

tick, lyme disease
Image by CDC

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium (singular for bacteria) that is transferred to humans through the bite of an infected blacked legged tick (Ixodes scapularis), also known as the deer tick.

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), typical symptoms include many that resemble the flu:

Lyme disease
By Photo Credit: James GathanyContent Providers(s): CDC/ James Gathany – This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Image Library (PHIL)
  •  fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • muscle and joint aches.

A clearer warning sign is the appearance of a “bulls-eye” rash around the tick bite.

Many of us know that wearing long pants and using insecticides when in tall grass during Spring and Summer can help prevent getting this debilitating disease. However . . .

Here are 5 Lyme Disease facts that everyone should know, but few do:

cdc, deer tick, lyme disease

 

  1. Lyme disease is caused by bacteria (of the Borrelia kind), not a virus.  So unlike the malaria virus that is carried by mosquitoes, Lyme disease can be ‘cured’ with antibiotics.

2. Deer are not the main hosts of this zoonotic disease.  What is a zoonotic disease?  Any disease that is spread from animals to people. Although deer are often accused of being the main contributors of this disease- it is called a deer tick after all- scientific evidence has shown that it is actually small, infected mammals (chipmunks, mice, shrews, etc) that continue the cycle by infecting tick larvae when taking their first meal.  Deer supply adults (usually already infected)  with their main meal needed for reproducing.  Therefore, they are just part of the cycle. . .not the cause.

3. Small patches of forest are more dangerous than larger ones.  To continue with the previous note, it makes sense that larger forests that contain more biodiversity- predators that eat small mammals- would be able to eliminate some of the carriers more readily than smaller patches with less biodiversity.  See. . .protecting our forests is good for our health.

4. Before the bacteria was discovered, many cases were misdiagnosed as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.  Symptoms may include loss of the ability to move one or both sides of the face, joint pains, severe headaches with neck stiffness, or heart palpitations.

5. You are not always doomed if bit. If you remove a tick quickly (within 24 hours) you can greatly reduce your chances of getting Lyme disease. It takes some time for the Lyme disease-causing bacteria to move from the tick to the host. The longer the tick is attached, the greater the risk of acquiring disease from it.

How do you prevent tick bites?

 

Please share if you found this article interesting.  Until next time my friends, this is Ms. Mallory inviting you to. . . 

Ms. Mallory Adventures, Ms. mallory, Step Outside and Adventure

 

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