For Immediate Release: May 22, 2007
BURLINGTON – Lyme disease is on the rise in Vermont, according to data from the Vermont Department of Health.
In 2006, 62 Vermonters contracted Lyme disease from exposure to ticks in Vermont, compared to only 29 in 2005. Despite a rise in cases, the risk of contracting Lyme disease in Vermont is still much lower than in any other New England state.
“This increase could be attributed to several factors, including an increase in infected tick populations, or more testing for Lyme disease by Vermont health care providers,” said Patsy Tassler, Ph.D., an epidemiologist with the Vermont Department of Health.
The first sign of Lyme disease is often a rash that begins at the site of the tick bite. The rash usually begins 7 to 14 days after the tick was removed, but sometimes takes up to 30 days to appear. Additional symptoms of Lyme disease include fatigue, headache, fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle and joint pain.
Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics, especially if treatment is given early. Left untreated, Lyme disease may affect other parts of the body, including the heart and nervous system.
There are several measures everyone should take to prevent exposure to ticks and reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease:
- Avoid areas with a lot of ticks. Ticks prefer wooded and bushy areas with high grass and a lot of leaf litter.
- Control ticks around your home. Remove leaf litter, tall grass, and brush. Place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas. Mow the lawn and clear brush and letter frequently.
- Keep ticks off your skin. Wear long pants, long sleeves and long socks to keep ticks off your skin. Light colored clothing will help you spot ticks more easily. Tuck your pants into your socks.
- Use insect repellents containing DEET or permethrin, though do not apply to infants. Check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks daily and carefully and promptly remove ticks. Ticks usually need to feed for at least 24 hours in order to transmit Lyme disease, so daily tick checks and prompt removal of ticks can prevent infection.
For more information on ticks and Lyme disease visit the Health Department's Lyme disease website at: healthvermont.gov.