Particularly two species of ticks-the western blacklegged ticks and the blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks), are thought to be responsible for transmitting the bacteria that cause the Lyme disease.
Split into three different feedings stages-the larvae, nymph and the adult, these ticks basically feed on infected animals like squirrels, mice and birds, where they pick up the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacterium then resides in the gut of these ticks, and gets transmitted to the tick’s next prey.
“The ticks are nasty creatures,” psychiatrist and head of the Columbia University’s Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Research Center, Dr Brian Fallon, explained. “Ticks like moist, damp, shaded areas, so they tend to hang out on the edge of the woods. They tend to hang out on paths or nearby paths on the bushes, so that as you brush by the grass or the bushes, the ticks will then attach to your leg.”
Symptomized by a typical rash in the area bitten by the tick, accompanied by stiff and painful joints, fatigue and weakness, fever, chills, headache, swollen lymph nodes and muscle pain, Lyme disease affects more than 20,000 people in the US alone, each year.
Left untreated, the symptoms could worsen, and lead to chronic neurological complaints, arthritis, cognitive defects and more.
Early diagnosis may help prevent complications, and the treatment usually tends to include antibiotic medications.
“We need more treatment trials to try to understand and confirm what is the best treatment. This is not a simple disease and to treat it as if it is simple is a mistake,” Dr Fallon added.
Summer seems to be the best months for the spread of Lyme disease, mostly because both-people and the bacteria-carrying ticks are more active and vulnerable to getting in contact with each other.
Thankfully, the worse is over. Preventing yourself from becoming a tasty meal for the ticks is easy enough.
Firstly, make sure maximum areas of your body are covered. Wear long-sleeved tees and full pants, especially if you are trekking or camping outdoors.
Next, make it a point to carry insect repellents. Choose from the ones that have DEET as an ingredient- and apply it to both-your skin and your clothes.
Lastly, wear shoes or sandals that cover most of your foot, especially in the tick-populated areas.
Written By: Enozia Vakil