Deer Ticks and Lyme Disease – More Complicated than Previously Thought

Zana Healy, Staff Reporter

The northeast and midwest US have a tick problem; but the main problem is the population of mice, this is because the ticks favorite sources of food is mice. The thing is though the mice are the animals that actually carry Lyme disease bacteria and so when the ticks attach themselves to the mice they are taking in the Lyme disease as well as getting their food.

In medical studies, mice infect up to 95% of the ticks that feed off of them, and when there are done with the mice they detach themselves and wait for another living thing to come along to attach themselves to for another meal.

“The bacteria that causes Lyme is not transmitted instantly, tick attachment must be for 48 to 72 hours for transmission to occur, so daily inspection of one’s body is an effective means to prevent acquisition of Lyme disease.” Amesh Adalja, an affiliated scholar with Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said.

“The issue is that people don’t realize they are still active after the cold winter we’ve had, they think like mosquitoes they get wiped out by the first frost, things like that,” Nice Piedmonte told Syracuse’s NewsChannel 9. The adult ticks peak in the fall, around October/November. These ticks are still out there now, especially females that carry pathogens like Lyme disease.

Ticks are a little sluggish in the colder weather whereas in the warmer weather they can crawl much faster and even on a rainy day you’ll see ticks moving. You don’t have to be deep in the trails of woods to find a tick.

Ticks tend to not live in shorter grass like lawns though. The most common places ticks can be found in urban areas are green spaces like the Meadowbrook Basin Path in Syracuse and in overgrown areas.  Many places in Jefferson county are loaded with ticks.

Prevention methods include making sure to wear long pants, tucked into your socks or into high boots, with a shirt tucked into your pants.  Unless you are allergic, applying bug spray containing DEET to your clothing can help repel ticks. Be sure you check yourself for ticks after being outside, and don’t forget to check any younger siblings and your pets for them too.