AN INFORMATIONAL ARTICLE ON DEER TICKS
AND LYME DISEASE
As fall like temperatures turn colder and winter quickly approaches
residents will be enjoying outdoor activities while the weather is still
tolerable. Palos Park offers a combination of beautiful wooded areas and
extremely active wildlife this time of year. Unfortunately our wonderful
outdoor environment offers the perfect habitat for different ticks which
have been more abundant in our area over the past few years. One cause for
concern is that Lyme Disease is spread to humans through a tick common to
our area known as the Deer Tick.
Lyme disease was first recognized in the United States in 1975 after an
unusual outbreak of arthritis near Lyme, Connecticut. The Deer Tick, also
known as the Black-Legged Tick can be found throughout the entire United
States. Most frequent infected ticks with Lyme Disease are found from
Massachusetts to Maryland, northern California, and the north central states
especially Minnesota and Wisconsin. Since 1975, reports of Lyme disease have
increased dramatically, and the disease has become an important health
concern in northern portions of the United States.
Lyme disease is a bacterial disease transmitted by an infected tick. The
disease transfer occurs when a Deer Tick bites a human. Not all Deer Ticks
carry the bacterium, and a bite does not always result in the development of
Lyme Disease. However, since it is impossible to tell which ticks are
infected, it is important to avoid tick bites whenever possible.
Immature Deer Ticks can be very small, normally about the size of a pin,
adult Deer Ticks are slightly larger, normally about the size of a tomato
seed. Both the immature and adult ticks can transmit Lyme Disease. Deer
Ticks acquire the bacteria by feeding primarily on small mammals infected
with the bacteria, particularly the white-foot mouse, white-tailed deer, and
The Deer Tick will search for host animals from the leaf litter of the
forest floor (immature ticks) or from the tips of grasses and shrubs (adult
ticks) where they will crawl on animals or persons. Ticks do not fly or
jump. Ticks found on the human scalp usually have crawled there from a lower
part of the body. Ticks feed on blood, inserting their mouth parts (not
their whole bodies) into the skin of a person or animal. Deer Ticks are slow
feeders; a complete blood meal can take several days. As the tick feeds
their body slowly enlarges. The risk of exposure to Deer Ticks is greatest
in the woody areas and in the lawn area between lawns and woody areas. Ticks
can also be carried by wild and domestic animals onto lawns, gardens, and
Early stages of “Lyme Disease”
are usually noted by one or more of the following symptoms:
Chills and fever
Muscle and joint pain
Swollen lymph nodes
An oval characteristic skin rash referred to as a “Bulls-Eye”
Normally the “Bulls-Eye” will appear on the skin within 3 days to 1 month
after the bite of an infected tick.
Lyme Disease can be treated
effectively with antibiotics. Several antibiotics are effective and are
usually given by but may be given intravenously in more severe cases.
Patients treated with antibiotics in the early stages of the infection
usually recover rapidly and completely. Most patients who are treated in the
later stages of the disease also respond well to antibiotics. Some infected
patients who are treated for Lyme Disease may have persistent or recurrent
symptoms, and may require additional antibiotic treatment. Varying degrees
of permanent damage to joints or the nervous system can develop in patients
which have had Lyme Disease for longer periods of time. Typically these are
patients in which Lyme Disease was unrecognized in the early stages. Lyme
Disease is rarely, if ever fatal.
Here are a few precautions you can take to decrease the chances of being
bitten by a tick:
areas, especially in May, June, July, October and November.
clothing so that you can spot ticks more easily.
Tuck pant legs in
socks or boots and tuck shirts into pants to keep ticks outside of
Tape the area where
pants and socks meet so that ticks cannot crawl under clothing.
Wear a long-sleeved shirt for added protection.
Spary insect repellent
containing 20-30% concentration of DEET on clothes. Follow the
manufacturer’s instructions when applying repellents.
Walk in the center of
the trails to avoid contact with overgrown grass and brush on trail