Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
MAY IS NATIONAL LYME DISEASE PREVENTION MONTH
Reports of Lyme Disease Increased 36% in Maryland Last Year
BALTIMORE, MD (May 4, 2000) -- In an effort to raise awareness about diseases spread through tick bites, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) recognizes May as Lyme Disease Prevention Month, an annual event sponsored by the American Lyme Disease Foundation. Diseases spread by tick bites include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis and erlichiosis.
Reports of Lyme disease are on the increase in Maryland. There were 899 confirmed cases reported to DHMH in 1999, compared to 659 cases in 1998, a 36 percent increase. Health department officials believe that many more cases of Lyme disease go unreported.
"We are entering the time of the year when tick problems are most evident," said DHMH Secretary Dr. Georges C. Benjamin. "May through September is the most common time for tick bites. We want each citizen to know about ways to prevent tick bites, what to do if bitten and to seek medical treatment if symptoms occur."
Lyme disease is an important public health problem for people of all ages. It is the most commonly diagnosed tick-borne disease in the United States. If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to serious health problems, chronic arthritis, nerve and heart damage.
"Lyme disease is preventable, if people take action to protect themselves," said Dr. Clifford Johnson, the Maryland State Public Health Veterinarian. "This includes wearing appropriate clothes and checking your body for the presence of ticks."
Prevention is the key to avoiding tick bites. The best preventive measure is to avoid areas where ticks live - tall grass, brush and wooded areas - especially during the late spring and early summer. People should check themselves, their children and their pets daily for ticks. Biting ticks must remain attached on the human body for a least 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease.
In December 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the world’s first vaccine for the prevention of Lyme disease in humans. "This vaccine works by killing the bacteria in the tick," said Dr. Johnson, "so the tick is unable to pass Lyme disease to people." The vaccine is another level of protection that people can use to prevent Lyme disease. In people who had Lyme disease symptoms, a clinical study showed the vaccine was 78 percent effective after three doses. Officials recommended that you talk to your health care provider about whether you should be vaccinated.
If you live, work, play or visit an area where ticks are found, wear light-weight, light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants. This should enable you to more easily spot ticks. Make sure the pant legs are tucked into socks and the shirt is tucked into pants. Use tick repellants (be sure to read package directions before using on infants or children). Body checks (especially scalp, ears, armpits, groin and other skin folds) should be done at least every day. Consider getting Lyme disease vaccine if you frequent tick-infested areas. People at highest risk of getting a tick bite include those who work in areas that have large tick population.
If you find a tick on your body, remove it properly and immediately. If possible, use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull straight back and up with a slow steady force. If you are without tweezers, use your fingers, but protect them by using a tissue or glove.
Although prevention is best, if you develop Lyme disease symptoms, seek treatment immediately. The most common symptom of Lyme disease is a circular reddish expanding rash which often occurs at the site of the tick bite. It typically has a pale center with a red rim, giving the appearance of a "bull’s eye." You should see your health care provider if you develop flu-like symptoms (headaches, fever, chills, tiredness, a rash, muscle/joint aches or pain), within 3-32 days after you find a tick attached.
All stages of Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics under the care of you health care provider. It is almost never too late to treat Lyme disease. Long-term problems can be prevented with early attention and treatment.
For more information about Lyme disease contact your local health care provider or local health department.
DHMH News Release
201 West Preston Street, Baltimore, MD. 21201
Office of Public Relations
Statewide Education Campaign to Focus on Tick-borne Diseases
Maryland Get Ticked Off! is theme; Lyme disease is prime focus
For Immediate Release
BALTIMORE, MD (May 6, 2008) – With warmer weather and tick season right around the corner, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) is launching an education campaign featuring the slogan Maryland Get Ticked Off! Lyme disease, with over 2,500 cases reported inMaryland in 2007, is the prime target of this initiative.
“Marylanders take pride in their environment and enjoy the outdoor climate that summer provides to us,” said DHMH Secretary John M. Colmers. “But we need to remember to be careful because tick-borne diseases are on the rise, and ticks can be found throughout the state.”
The campaign, launched in conjunction with the May recognition of Lyme Disease Awareness Month, features educational brochures, posters, fact sheets and magnets that local health departments can distribute to their residents.
There are several kinds of ticks in Maryland that can transmit disease when they bite people or their pets. These ticks are most commonly found in marshy places, woods, bushes, shrubs, leaf litter and tall grass – and even in people’s backyards.
Yet it is one of the smallest -- the black-legged tick – that causes some of the biggest problems because it can transmit several tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease. The challenge is that it can be difficult to find crawling on someone because it may be smaller than a sesame seed.
Following are steps people can take to prevent tick bites and possible disease transmission from those bites.
- Use insect repellent containing 20–50 percent DEET. Repellents with up to 30 percent DEET can safely be used on children over two months of age;
- Treat clothes with permethrin (don’t use permethrin directly on skin);
- Wear long pants and long sleeves to help keep ticks off of skin, and tuck pant legs into socks and shirts into pants to keep ticks on the outside of clothing;
- Wear light colored clothing to spot ticks more easily;
- Talk to a veterinarian about tick control products for pets;
- Avoid wooded or brushy areas with tall grass or leaf litter;
- Check yourself, your children and your pets daily for ticks after spending time in tick habitat; and
- If you find a tick, carefully remove it with tweezers by grasping it as close to the skin as possible and pulling firmly and gently straight up.
Many tick-borne diseases have similar early symptoms, including fever, headache, fatigue and possible rash. However, the signs and symptoms may vary, so it is important that people contact their health care provider if they develop any of these symptoms after a tick bite or after being in tick habitat. Most cases of tick-borne disease can be cured with antibiotics, especially when treatment is started early.
More information may be found by logging onto www.MarylandTickOff.org. This Web site provides information on Lyme disease and how it is transmitted, and gives tips on how to prevent tick bites and disease transmission from tick bites.
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