How Can You Prevent Lyme Disease From Spreading?

What is Lyme Disease? Lyme disease is an illness caused by the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, that’s transmitted by a tick named, Ixodes scapularis (commonly called the deer tick). Lyme disease may cause symptoms affecting the skin, nervous system, heart, as well as joints.

Who gets Lyme Disease? People who spend time outdoors in tick-infested environments increase their risk of exposure. Males and females of all ages can get Lyme disease. Most cases have reported an exposure to ticks or woodland habitat during May through 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 – 32 days after a tick bite

Most people with Lyme disease will get a bulls eye rash called “erythema migrans” where they’re bitten. The rash starts as a small, round, red area, which usually expands 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.

How can you prevent Lyme disease from spreading?

  • Insect repellents containing 0.5% permethrin or 20-30% DEET, which has shown to effectively repel deer ticks. If such products are used, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions on the label.
  • Insecticides provide excellent control of deer ticks. One application of carbaryl, applied in June, reduced deer tick nymph populations by 95-99% in NJ trials. 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).