Protecting Yourself Against Lyme Disease

  • What is Lyme disease?

LYME DISEASE... is an infection resulting from the bite of a certain species of tick. It can start out as a skin rash and can progress through stages to frank arthritis. The various stages and symptoms of the disease are increasingly well recognized. If detected early, the disease can be treated with antibiotics, and it is possible to protect yourself by following several common-sense-tips.

  • What does the deer tick look like?

The juvenile deer tick, or nymph, is abundant in late spring and summer and is about the size of a poppy seed. It is black in color. Adult ticks are active throughout the fall, warm winter days and early spring and are about the size of a sesame seed. Adult females (seen much more often on humans than males) are black toward the front and a dull red toward the rear.

  • What should I do if I become ill after a tick bite and am not sure if the symptoms are of Lyme disease?

Consult your doctor.

  • What is the best way to dispose of ticks?

If you have been bitten, save the tick in a small glass jar, if not, destroy it in a vial of alcohol or flush it away.

  • What can we do to reduce tick bites and Lyme disease infection?

Avoid going into woods and grasslands and places known to have ticks in late spring and during summer. If you do, protect yourself by wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, making sure that your socks are over your pant legs. Never wear sandals or other open footwear in a tick habitat. Wear light-colored clothing; ticks will be easier to detect. Repellent sprayed on the outside of your clothing may help as well.

Upon returning, remove all clothing, shower, examine yourself for ticks, and wash clothing immediately to remove any ticks which are hidden in the creases of material.

Check pets before they enter the house. Flea and tick collars may help reduce the numbers of ticks on pets, and insecticide may help control them in small yards. Carefully follow the instructions on the label.

  • Do other blood-sucking arthropods transmit Lyme disease?

At this time it is not known, though research is underway. Mosquitoes, deer flies, and horse flies have been shown to harbor the spirochete, as have other species of ticks such as the Lone Star tick (Arriblyorrima americanum), which occurs in New Jersey and in many of the southern states. There is little available evidence, however, on their efficiency at transmitting Borrefia burgdorferi. Generally, biting insects are infected with the organism at a considerably lower rate than the infection rate of ticks.

  • Do domestic and wild animals get Lyme disease?

So far, animals that appear affected by Borrefia burgdorferi are dogs and horses. Studies are underway in cats and cattle. Some animals have shown limb joint disease similar to that described in dogs.

  • If I have been bitten by an Ixodes dammini tick, what are my chances of contracting Lyme disease?

It depends on the geographic area, infection rates, and the time of year. Certain areas are more heavily infested by infected ticks than others. The months of June and July are peak season for nymphal ticks; these attack humans more frequently than do adult ticks, although the latter are also capable of transmitting the disease-causing spirochete.

  • What can I do to prevent Lyme disease?

If you spend a lot of time in tick habitat, take these precautions:

  • Talk to your doctor about being vaccinated against Lyme disease. 
  • Wear insect repellant containing DEET; Follow manufacture's directions. 
  • Be vigilant for deer ticks - frequent tick checks and a daily full-body inspection are a must. 
  • Promptly remove any ticks that are attached to the body using fine-tipped tweezers; take a pair of tweezers with you into the field. 

For more information about Lyme disease, the new vaccine and other tick-borne infections, visit the American Lyme Disease Foundation Inc. web site or call 1-800-876-LYME.

The Lyme Disease Foundation (LDF), located in Hartford, Connecticut, is recommended by most Lyme disease knowledgeable clinical physicians and patients. The above link for the LDF also is listed on official web pages for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - see:

Additionally, the LDF is extensively quoted in the following Federal 
Drug Administration article:


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