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May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. When it comes to ticks and the harmful diseases they transmit, being informed is crucial. We have collected multiple need-to-know facts about Lyme disease for residents of Western Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut.

How Is Lyme Disease Transmitted?

Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi). Ticks will pick up the bacteria from animals in the wild such as deer or mice. The ticks will then transmit the bacteria via blood to pets or humans. According to the National Pest Management Association, the bacteria takes 24-36 hours to spread into the bloodstream.

What is a deer tick?

The blacklegged (deer) tick is named after is appearance: dark legs. Its more common name, the deer tick, comes from its preferred meal source of wild deer. This is how Lyme disease is commonly spread. The deer tick is notably small, approximately the size of a sesame seed. This can make noticing them difficult, allowing the 24-36-hour timeframe required for Lyme disease to spread via the bloodstream.

How do you prevent Lyme disease?

The most reliable way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent transmission. Avoid getting bit by following some simple guidelines in your everyday life. When navigating heavily wooded areas and tall grass, wear appropriate clothing. This includes light colors—easier to spot ticks on—and closed-toed shoes. Keep your property well maintained. Ticks can hide in brush, tall grass, and even woodpiles. Having a neat yard, with low grass, minimizes your exposure to ticks on your property. Lastly, performing regular tick checks on yourself, your family, and pets after a hike may let you find and remove a tick before they can transmit Lyme disease.

What do I do if I find a tick bite WITH a tick still attached!

Not all deer ticks will carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease! So, remove the tick, save it, and contact your doctor.  You can also have your tick analyzed independently at TickReport.com. Tick Report is a neat and valuable service that has been available since 2006.  Tick Report is part of the UMASS Amherst Entomology Department.  You go online to TickRepot.com, create an order, get an order number, and mail in your tick.  They will tell you if your tick is positive or negative for Lyme disease!

The service starts at around $50 and you can choose higher levels of analysis depending on your needs.

How do I know if I have Lyme disease?

The most recognizable sign of Lyme disease is an expanding “bull’s-eye” rash. This occurs at the site of the tick bite. Please note that the “bull’s-eye” rash does not always occur so, if you think you have been bitten by a tick, consult with your doctor.  Further progression of Lyme disease manifests as flu-like symptoms: stiff muscles, tiredness, lethargy, fever, and chills. Treatment too long after this stage of Lyme disease can have serious ramifications.

What should I do if I think I have Lyme disease?

Using the above, determine if your symptoms align with the traditional symptoms of Lyme disease. Call your doctor as soon as you believe you may have Lyme disease. They can properly diagnose Lyme disease and begin treatment.

For additional tick information, view our ultimate guide:

The team at Graduate Pest Solutions can help. Call us at 413-566-8222 or contact us with any questions or if you are experiencing a pest problem. We have the knowledge and service necessary to help keep your home pest-free!

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