Summary: Lyme disease is caused by bacteria passed to humans by infected black-legged or deer ticks. Find out how to prevent deer ticks from biting you.
You wonder if the tick that bit you isn't thinking œbullseye. The red welt that has appeared on your skin a few days after you discovered a tick chewing on you has got you worried. It is red in the middle, with a wider white circle surrounded by a red circle. It looks like a bullseye and there is a good chance that the tick that carries Lyme disease has scored the direct hit.
Lyme disease is an infectious disease which is generally spread to humans by the hard bodied black-legged tick or deer tick, both of which are most common in the Northeast and upper-Midwest parts of the United States. In the early stages of the disease a red bull's-eye mark will appear where the tick bite occurred. Later stages bring on flu-like symptoms and then musculoskeletal, arthritic, neurological, psychiatric, and cardiac manifestations. Lyme disease is curable with antibiotic treatments that are administered for two to four weeks. In some cases, especially if the disease has developed into its later stages, it can be more difficult to cure. Early detection and treatment are important.
Deer ticks are parasitic and, like all ticks, feed on blood. Their host is often the white tailed deer that gives the ticks their name. It has been shown that by reducing deer populations, deer tick populations can also be dramatically reduced.
The deer ticks have several stages in their life cycle and at each stage they require a blood meal. The host for this blood meal often varies because after feeding the ticks will drop off. Then, the tick will sit a piece of tall grass waiting for another victim to pass by.
To reduce the available places that deer ticks can hide in wait, we suggest trimming shrubs, cutting long grass and removing leaf debris. Tick bait systems are available to reduce tick populations. The bait stations can be geared towards deer or mice (another common carrier of ticks), but the principal behind them is the same. The animal feeding on the bait system rubs against something coated with a pesticide that kills ticks. The deer or mouse feeds at the bait station, rubs against the pesticide and the ticks living on the animal are killed. This is effective for reducing tick populations and the more bait stations in the local environment the more effective the treatment.
A graph illustrating where the deer tick is most active is featured in this article. The deer tick's activity depends on the season and the life cycle stage of the tick.
Lyme disease usually requires that the tick be on the host for longer than 24 hours for the disease to pass from the tick carrying it to the host on which it resides. If ticks are removed immediately after the tick bites, there is a good chance that the disease will not be passed.