Tick Season Heightens Importance of Awareness and Prevention of Lyme Disease

For Immediate Release: May 31, 2006
Contact: Communication Office
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – Deer ticks in the nymph stage are tiny, about the size of a poppy seed, but they are the main source of transmitting Lyme disease to people from May through July.

A total of 101 cases of Lyme disease have been reported in Vermont from 1999-2005, including a season-high 29 cases last year.

“Human cases of Lyme disease have been reported from all over Vermont, it is not a problem that is limited to just one area of the state,” said Patsy Tassler, Ph.D., an epidemiologist with the Vermont Department of Health. “Daily tick checks and prompt removal of any attached ticks can prevent transmission of Lyme disease.”

Lyme disease in humans can vary from no illness to severe disease that in rare cases, if left untreated by antibiotics, can spread to the brain or heart. Ticks thrive in areas of high humidity and they are most commonly found in grassy, brushy, wooded, and shaded areas.

“If you are bitten by a tick let your doctor know as soon as possible,” Tassler said. “Ticks can carry a number of different diseases and some have general symptoms, such as fever or nausea, and a tick bite may be the only clue to the cause of the illness.”

Call your physician if you experience any symptoms of Lyme disease after a tick bite such as fatigue, chills and fever, muscle joint and pain, headache or swollen lymph nodes.

When working or hiking in the woods, or fields, put on insect repellent and wear protective clothing. Carefully inspect for - and promptly and safely remove - any attached ticks.

Other tips to prevent tick bites:

Dr. Robert Johnson, state public health veterinarian for the Vermont Department of Health, said that all owners of dogs and cats should consult with their local veterinarian about recommendations on tick prevention, particularly for dogs that spend a lot of time in wooded areas and near lakes, ponds and streams.

Although most commonly diagnosed in dogs, it is also possible for cats, horses, goats and cattle to get Lyme disease. Common symptoms include sudden severe pain or lameness, fever, lethargy and loss of appetite.

For more information about ticks and Lyme disease in Vermont, visit the Health Department website at http://healthvermont.gov.

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