Lyme Disease Fact Sheet

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is an illness caused by a bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, that is transmitted by a tick named Ixodes scapularis, (commonly called the deer tick). Lyme disease may cause symptoms affecting the skin,nervous system, heart and/or joints of an infected individual.

Who gets Lyme disease?

Males and females of all ages can get Lyme disease. People who spend time outdoorsin tick-infested environments are at an increased risk of exposure. Most cases have reported an exposure to ticks or woodland/brush habitat during the months of Maythrough August, but exposure can occur whenever the temperature at ground level is warm enough for ticks to be active.Dogs can also get Lyme disease The only way a tick can transmit the bacteria is to remain attached to the animal’s skin for one to two days.  Unfortunately, these ticks are very small and easily can go unnoticed.

Symptoms appear 3 to 32 days after a tick bite

Most people with Lyme disease will get a rash called “erythema migrans” where they were bitten. The rash starts as a small red round area, which usually expands to two or more inches across. The center of the rash may clear giving a “bull’s eye” appearance. Other symptoms are fever, headache, tiredness, stiff neck, joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. Without treatment, the heart, nervous system, or joints may be affected weeks to years later; the rash may also spread to other parts of the body.

What can be done to prevent the spread of Lyme disease?

* Insect repellents containing 0.5% permethrin or 20-30% DEET have been shown to be effective in repelling deer ticks. If such products are used, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions on the label.

* Insecticides have provided excellent control of deer ticks. One application of carbaryl, applied in June, reduced deer tick nymph populations by 95-99% in NJ trials. Since nymphs rarely travel more than 9 feet from where they molted. An application is needed in early summer for nymph control and another application for adults.

* Try to prevent pets from going into areas infested with ticks (e.g., woods, fields, tall grass).

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