Deer Ticks And Lyme Disease
Deer ticks (Ixodes dammini) are an important urban pest in the East and upper Midwest because when conditions are just right they can transmit Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can cause serious problems in skeletal joints, the nervous system, and even the heart, if not properly diagnosed and treated.
The disease is spread on the West Coast by a related tick species, the Western Black-Legged Tick (Ixodes pacificus).
Although cases of what is believed to be Lyme disease have been reported in the South, hard evidence for linking the disease to infection by a tick has not yet been found. This file deals only with the deer tick. It is intended to help you avoid contact with deer ticks and thus avoid possible infection with Lyme disease.
Here is a summary of the information that follows in this file:
Avoid areas where deer ticks are found—woods, shrubs, tall weeds and grass. Deer ticks are seldom found in the home landscape, or the mowed areas of golf courses and athletic fields.
When going out into possible deer tick areas, dress properly and use repellents both on your clothes and for exposed skin on you.
If you are bitten by a tick, learn how to find and remove it properly. Remember that an infected tick (nymph or adult) usually must be attached for 12 to 24 hours before it can transmit the disease. That is why careful inspection should be performed after every outdoor activity that involves going into deer tick areas.
Be aware of the symptoms of Lyme disease if you know you’ve been bitten or you think you might have been bitten. Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics, especially if it is correctly diagnosed early on. It is not fatal.