Spring has arrived in most areas of the United States. While we all enjoy getting outside more, being out in nature during the warmer months brings with it the potential for tick bites. Every time we venture outdoors, we need to be vigilant in examining ourselves, our kids and our pets for those tiny disease carriers. Did you know that ticks are programmed to move toward your head or ears, seeking blood in the areas where your skin is the thinnest?
Each year, 30,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease, which is transmitted to humans through tick bites and left untreated can damage joints, the heart and nervous system. The CDC estimates that because so many cases are undiagnosed, the number is probably closer to 300,000! Yet, many people are still unaware of the potential risk or even know that they should be taking precautions to avoid a tick bite.
What areas of the country are most susceptible to Lyme disease-carrying ticks? While nearly 95 percent of Lyme disease cases occur in 14 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin, infected ticks can also be found in neighboring states and in some areas of Northern California, Oregon and Washington.
Ticks carry other diseases too. Less known, but serious tick-borne diseases include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, Powassan virus, and babesiosis. These diseases tend to be concentrated in specific parts of the country. Babesiosis and anaplasmosis occur in the same areas as Lyme disease—mainly in the Northeast and upper Midwest. More than 60 percent of Rocky Mountain spotted fever cases occur in five states: Arkansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
How can you avoid contact and possible tick-borne disease infections?
- Avoid areas with high grass and walking in the center of hiking trails.
- Use EPA-friendly insect repellants that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil lemon of eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol.
- Be certain to follow the directions on any of these products.
- You might also wear tick repellant clothing. This clothing has been infused with one of the above substances to repel ticks.
- Treat your pets for ticks, as well. Often, our dogs or cats are how ticks are introduced into our homes. Speak with your veterinarian about the best prevention for your pets.
- Always bathe upon returning from an outing. This allows a full body inspection to find the crawling ticks and may get them off before they actually bite.
TSS is now a distributor for the Cutter ™ Lyme Disease Test Kits, which easily test ticks, removed from a human or pet, for the Lyme Disease-causing bacterium. Kits may be purchased online at the TSS, Inc. website or at any TSS. office.
The process is simple: Kits contain an easy-to-use tick removal tool and specimen bag. Remove the tick, using the tool, place the tick in a bag, complete the submission form, apply labels to the specimen bag as instructed, place the specimen bag in a standard envelope, attach the mailing label, add postage, and drop it in the mail.
Ticks are tested at a lab using a DNA-based screening technique called Polymerase Chain Reaction. The DNA of the pathogen in the tick that causes Lyme Disease can be identified with 99.9 percent accuracy.
Knowing whether a tick is a Lyme disease carrier or not may simply eliminate the need for doctor visits and medications and put your mind at ease. Or, if it is, you will know to go and get checked. Results are reported via email, phone, fax, or Postal Service within three business days of receipt.
To learn more about the kit, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Most importantly, be vigilant when you are out in nature and avoid tick bites all-together!