The National Pest Management Association shares everything the public should know to guard against the serious tickborne disease.
According to new research released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human cases of tickborne Lyme disease are more common in the U.S. than previously thought. Based on insurance records from 2010 to 2018, the CDC estimates that approximately 476,000 people were diagnosed with and treated for Lyme disease each year in the U.S., representing a staggering 44 percent increase compared to the previous annual estimate of about 329,000 people from 2005 to 2010. In the wake of this alarming uptick, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) is reminding the public about the serious health threats posed by ticks and the safety precautions people should practice when spending time outdoors.
“Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, are predominantly found in the Northeast region of the U.S.; however, human cases of Lyme disease, transmitted through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks
, have been detected in all 50 states,” said Cindy Mannes, senior vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. “Proper tick prevention is crucial to our health and wellbeing, especially now as outdoor excursions like hikes have become the preferred socially-distanced activities amidst the ongoing pandemic.”
Although Lyme disease is treatable, it can easily be confused for other conditions and cases of the disease are vastly underreported. The CDC receives about 30,000 to 40,000 reported cases each year, much less than the 476,000 annual cases estimated in the agency’s recent report. Knowing the telltale signs of Lyme disease, such as a “bull’s-eye” rash that can appear in some cases, is essential to early detection and receiving proper care. However, the disease can present flu-like symptoms similar to those caused by the common cold or even COVID-19, so anyone experiencing these issues should alert their medical provider and be sure to note if they’ve recently been bitten by a tick.
“Lyme disease can cause a number of different symptoms, from fever and headaches to heart palpitations and brain inflammation,” explained Dr. Jorge Parada, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.P., F.I.D.S.A., F.S.H.E.A., medical advisor for the National Pest Management Association. “In addition to aiding in Lyme disease diagnosis, regular tick checks can actually help prevent disease transmission in the first place. Lyme disease can be transmitted into a person’s bloodstream in as little as 36-48 hours after the initial tick bite, making prompt detection and proper tick removal key to disease prevention.”
While peak tick season typically takes place during the warmer months, these pests can still pose serious threats even when the weather outside is cold. According to the CDC’s National Syndromic Surveillance Program, emergency department visits for tick bites typically experience a secondary spike during October and November.
To stay safe and tick-free, follow these year-round prevention methods:
Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and closed-toed shoes
Wear insect repellent containing at least 20 percent DEET when outdoors
Inspect yourself, your family and pets for ticks after spending time outdoors
Wild animals such as deer can bring ticks onto personal property, where they can detach and hide amongst overgrown grass and vegetation. Regularly remove weeds and cut grass low to keep your yard tick-free and contact a licensed pest control professional
if you suspect or discover a tick infestation.