Lyme disease is the most common vectorborne disease in Maine. Ticks are already out and we expect the number of Lyme disease cases to increase as the weather continues to get warmer. May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month in Maine and we want to encourage Mainers to be tick smart. Lyme disease is an acute inflammatory disease caused by the bite of a tick infected with the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi; Lyme disease is spread through the bite of ticks which carry Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is carried by Ixodes scapularis (the deer tick). Cases have increased over the last decade in Maine, and occur in all 16 counties. Providers reported over 1,485 cases of Lyme disease statewide in 2016, an increase from 2015. Lyme disease is most common among school age children and mature adults over the age of 65. Most infections occur during the summer months, and as the weather continues to warm up, more ticks will be out in the open, and we are likely to see more cases of Lyme disease. Providers have already reported cases in 2017, and the number will rise as we enter 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.
What to do after a tick bite:
-Remove the tick properly, ideally using tweezers or a tick spoon.
-Identify the tick and the engorgement level, or length in time of attachment. Tick identification is available for free through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and more information can be found at http://extension.umaine.edu/ipm/tickid/
Clean the area around the bite and watch for signs and symptoms for 30 days.
Testing of the tick is not routinely recommended because even if the tick tests positive for Lyme, that does not mean it was attached long enough to transmit the disease. Even if the tick tests negative that does not mean that was a patient’s only exposure, and it does not eliminate the possibility of disease.
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