Lyme Disease on the Rise in Maine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacterium Borrelia Burgdorferi.  It is transmitted through the bite of the black-legged (deer) tick that spreads the disease heavily in the northeastern United States.  While states like Texas and Arizona deal with large amounts of cockroaches and scorpions, Mainers are dealing with a newer problem which often carries with it a more significant health risk.

Lyme Disease’s Origin and Growth

The word “new” is relative, but in terms of diseases spread through insects, lyme disease is only 40 years old.  Unfortunately for New Englanders, the disease was actually discovered in our own backyard, in Lyme, Connecticut in the 1980s when a group of children started becoming ill with symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.  Since then, Lyme disease cases have increased every single year.  According to the Lyme Disease Association, although there are 30,000 confirmed cases of lyme disease every year, the number is probably closer to 400,000 with many being undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with the flu or a common cold.  This tiny disease which started 200 miles away, is now in 50 states and over 80 countries.

Maine Statistics

In 2018, there were 1,121 cases of Lyme Disease reported in Maine, nearly doubling to 2,175 in 2019.  Maine’s warm and humid summers is a contributing factor, but because of new homes being built each year, we are constantly working, playing, and living in areas where ticks have lived much longer.  Now in cleared woods, ticks find a home on nearby bushes ready to enjoy a blood meal from a passerby.  

The Maine CDC says the southern counties of Cumberland, York, and Kennebec reported the highest numbers of confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the state in 2020.  Though southern Maine has less trees, northern Maine’s coniferous forests aren’t ideal habitats and southern Maine’s climate is milder.

In June of 2021, emergency department visits were 1,329, up from June 2020’s count of 890.  

Which ticks are most dangerous?

The most commonly found ticks on humans are the american dog tick, and the Lyme disease-causing black-legged (deer) tick.  The most dangerous black-legged tick is one in its nymph stage of its life cycle.  Larvae are of no danger because they have not had their first blood meal from an infected mouse.  Adult ticks are dangerous, but easier to spot and can be removed easier. Not only has a nymph enjoyed a blood meal and could be carrying the bacterium which causes lyme disease, but they are much smaller to detect. Ticks also frequently attach on hard-to-see areas like the groin, armpits, and scalp.  Usually a tick must be attached for more than 36 hours for the lyme disease bacterium to be transmitted. 

Symptoms

Though it is not always visible, early symptoms include a bullseye rash 3-30 days after the tick bite.  You then may have flu-like symptoms, headache, fatigue, and a fever.  Late symptoms when gone untreated include neurological issues and joint pain, meningitis, deafness, facial paralysis, arthritis, tingling in hands and feet, and myopathy, leading to an irregular heartbeat. 

A course of antibiotics will help, but major health issues occur when the disease spreads to the joints or heart.  If you think you’ve been bitten by a tick, it’s imperative to seek medical attention. Most of the time, when caught early, infection is cleared. Going untreated is when serious medical issues can occur.   

How Green Shield Pest Solutions Can Help

Green Shield Pest Solutions preaches education and prevention when it comes to tick control.  Though camping and hiking are common places to come in contact with ticks, most ticks are acquired in people’s own yards.  A thorough tick treatment from Green Shield Pest Solutions can go a long way, significantly decreasing the tick population on your property and doing so in a family-friendly and environmentally responsible way. For more information or to receive a quote over the phone, contact us HERE or call (207) 815-1003.