A few weeks ago we posted about a CDC study estimating that Lyme disease is a much larger problem than the confirmed cases show. In 2011, there were over 24,000 confirmed cases, with 96% of them happening in just 13 states, Vermont being one of them. The Vermont Health Department is fighting the bite by offering a new tick tracking website.
Vermont reported 500 cases of Lyme disease in 2011 and just over 350 last year. To help educate the public on tick activity, they launched a website allowing the public to report where they’ve noticed tick activity, “’Once you report ticks in your area, it shows up on a map so that everyone can know where they might want to take extra precautions when spending time outdoors,’ said the Health Department’s Erica Berl, an infectious disease epidemiologist. ‘It’s not too late to report – adult ticks are most active in the spring and fall.” Source.
The website, found at http://webmail.vdh.state.vt.us/vttracking/TickTracker/TickTracker.html, displays the different areas of tick activity on a map of the state. Small tick images are color coded bases on the type of tick reported. Hovering over the tick image will initiate a pop up that provides details on the report including, location, date, number of ticks found, how it was observed (on clothing, pet, etc) and a general comments field. One report included “Lyme positive” which must have come from someone who had recently been diagnosed. Looking at the map, a resident can easily identify a few pockets where numerous deer ticks (Lyme carrying ticks) have been reported.
The page also links to a “Be Tick Smart” guide that shows images of the different tick species, Lyme disease information, an illustration on how to remove a tick, and other handy information.
The tick tracking website is a great way to educate and increase tick awareness, especially in a state that has a large number of tick-borne illness reports each year.
Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick. Here are some helpful tips to protect against tick bites and Lyme disease:
- If you have seen ticks on your property, reach out to a professional tick control company like Mosquito Squad. We will get to the ticks, before they get to you.
- When spending time outdoors in unprotected areas, wear light colored pants and long sleeved shirts. Loose clothing is harder to bite through, but ticks are also easier to see on light colors than dark.
- Do a full body tick check after coming inside any time you’ve spent time outdoors, even if you did wear pants and long sleeves. Ticks are sly pests and can weasel their way to your skin if given the chance. Be sure to check areas like your armpits and behind your knees.
- If you have been bitten by a tick, remove it properly with tweezers (here’s a guide from the CDC) and put it in a plastic baggie if possible. Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose because of its flulike symptoms, so having the tick itself makes it easier. The ticks can be tested for the Lyme bacteria.
If you’ve been bitten by a blacklegged (deer) tick, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have Lyme. Not all deer ticks carry the disease. Also, if you are sure that the tick has been embedded in you less than 36 hours, your chances of having Lyme are slimmer. The key is to be observant and take note of any symptoms you may start to display including fatigue, joint pain or the telltale bull’s-eye rash.
If you have any questions on tick control for your yard, please contact your local Mosquito Squad office.