Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 10:50 AM EDT
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It’s that time of year again where a simple walk in the woods may bring some unwanted hitchhikers. May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Ticks are out and that brings the possibility of Lyme disease, even here in the County. But what can you do to prevent it? Brian Bouchard has the story.

“Maine is a really beautiful state, unfortunately along with being a beautiful state it is also a beautiful tick habitat”

Megan Porter is a Health Educator for the Maine CDC that specializes in Tick Borne Diseases. Last year, 14 ticks from across Aroostook county were sent to the University of Maine for testing. One of those ticks came back positive for carrying Lyme disease. May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and though the county may not have as large of a tick population as southern Maine, Porter says it’s still important to take the necessary precautions.

“Our theme this year is Tick Wise, so we really want to encourage all Maine residents and visitors to be tick wise and practice some really simple everyday behaviors that can prevent getting a tick bite because if you can prevent the tick bite in the first place, then you can prevent getting a tick borne disease”

In order to be “Tick Wise” the Maine CDC recommends following these tips:

• Know tick habitat and use caution in areas where ticks may live

• Use an EPA-approved repellent like Deet, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus

• Wear light-color clothing that covers the arms and legs and tuck pants into socks

• Perform tick checks daily and after any outdoor activity

“Last year Maine CDC recorded over 1500 cases of Lyme disease, that’s just Lyme disease, in the state. And Lyme disease is not the only tick borne disease that we see. We also broke records here in Maine for the number of anaplasmosis and babesiosis cases that we saw. So there are a lot of Mainers every year who are being bit by ticks and having their lives affected by these diseases.”

Porter says that if you do get bitten by a tick, your first step should be not to stay calm and remove the tick, including the head, as soon as possible. She says that it could take anywhere from 1 to 48 hours for the tick to transmit the disease to its host, and by removing it early enough, you can prevent contracting the disease.

“For about the first 30 days after you’ve been bitten by that tick you should monitor yourself for those flu like symptoms, fever, muscle aches, body aches, a lot of people that develop Lyme disease will have joint aches as well and for Lyme disease specifically, you want to check all over your body for that bullseye rash that we talk about with Lyme disease. If you have any of these symptoms that make you worried that you might have a tick borne disease you want to call your doctor or your health care provider and have them test you, and they might prescribe some antibiotics.”

But Porter says, as long as you’re “Tick Wise”, your likelihood of encountering a tick, and contracting one of these tick borne illnesses significantly decreases, and that means less time removing ticks, less worry, and more enjoying the natural beauty the State of Maine has to offer.

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8

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