From the Field

Connecting YOU with Wildlife – Pennsylvania Game Commission

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick…you should be too when checking for ticks.

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick...you should be too when checking for ticks.

Did you know that the first case of Lyme disease in the United State was described in 1969 by a Wisconsin grouse hunter?

It’s important for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts to understand Lyme disease and take preventative steps before, during and after being outdoors.

While the Game Commission does not specialize in human health issues, some general information on Lyme disease is provided below.

Cause
Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease of humans and some domestic mammals caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. Wild mammals and birds are often asymptomatic reservoirs for the bacteria.

Significance
Lyme disease can cause mild to severe illness in humans. It is common in Pennsylvania, particularly in areas where black-legged ticks or deer ticks are abundant. If left untreated, the illness can progress to serious conditions involving the joints, heart and nervous system.

Distribution
95% of reported cases of Lyme disease in the United States occurred in the following 12 states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maine and Virginia.

Transmission
The black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick is the most important vector for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

Clinical Signs
Most mammals and birds do not show clinical signs of Lyme disease. Some domestic animals, especially dogs, may develop clinical signs including fever, stiffness, lameness and arthritis. in 85% of cases, humans with Lyme disease develop a bull’s eye lesion at the location of the tick attachment followed by fever, fatigue and headache.

Diagnosis
Lyme disease is diagnosed using laboratory tests.

Treatment
Humans and domestic animals can be treated with antibiotics. Treatment has a higher efficacy if the infection is addressed early.

Management/Prevention
Precautions should be taken to reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease. When spending time outdoors in potential tick habitats:

  • Tuck long pants into socks or boots
  • Wear insect repellant
  • Check yourself and pets thoroughly for ticks after being outside

-Excerpts from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildilfe Disease Library http://bit.ly/1n5mwjt

To learn more visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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