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It could be a bad year for Lyme disease, predict two upstate New York scientists who study the disease.  Researchers at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, have determined the regional mouse population is skyrocketing, and mice are usually the transmitters of Lyme.

Pat Smith, president of the Lyme Disease Association, said “It certainly is a predictor because the white footed mouse in our region of the country generally is the mammal that carries the most Lyme disease, and transmits that to the ticks that bite people.”  While deer often are blamed as the main culprit, mice are far more likely to carry the Lyme bacteria.  One mouse can carry as many as 100 ticks on it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined New Jersey has the second highest total of Lyme disease cases in the nation.  Pennsylvania is ranked first.  The official number of reported cases of Lyme disease, according to the CDC, only represents about 10 percent of the actual number of patients suffering with  the disease,  so while there were 4,855 officially reported cases  in the Garden State in 2015, we  really had about 48,550 of Lyme.

Anyone who is bitten by a tick carrying the bacteria can become infected.   People who spend a lot of time outdoors in tick-infested areas from April through October are at greatest risk of becoming infected.  Proper removal of a tick from the skin within 48 hours of being bitten can reduce the risk of infection.

The early symptoms of Lyme disease may resemble those of various other infectious and non-infectious diseases.  The most common symptoms may include:

  • A rash that looks like a bull’s-eye.
  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stiff Neck
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain

Check yourself for ticks frequently when you are in tick-infested areas.  Check again after returning and before going to bed.  Lyme disease can be treated if the tick bite is noticed early.

 

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