On Friday, May 18, 2018, Governor Christopher T. Sununu proclaimed May as Lyme Disease Awareness Month in New Hampshire. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness, as an estimated 200,000-400,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. The Governor’s proclamation encouraged residents and visitors to practice Lyme disease prevention strategies.
According to a survey commissioned by Tick Free NH, almost 40% of NH adults do not think they have a high or moderate risk of becoming infected with Lyme disease, and 55% cited incorrect tick removal methods. Those opinions contrast with data from 2015, which estimated that New Hampshire had the second highest incidence rate of Lyme disease in the nation.
“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t know someone whose been affected by Lyme Disease,” said Governor Sununu. “It’s absolutely debilitating and life-changing for so many, and keeps them from living the lives they want to live.”
Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases including anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Powassan virus and Borrelia miyamotoi are on the rise in New Hampshire. The occurrence of these infections has increased significantly over the last decade, prompting the need for greater awareness and prevention efforts across the State. The tick species of most concern in New Hampshire is the blacklegged tick, formerly called the deer tick. Blacklegged ticks can transmit a number of different diseases, and all of the diseases transmitted in NH are intimately tied to the blacklegged tick’s life cycle. Rodents and deer are important hosts for ticks to survive in our environment. It is very important to consider ways to make your home and yard less attractive to them.
“While Lyme disease and tick-borne diseases tend to peak in the summer, we have found that health care visits for tick bites begin to increase dramatically beginning around April,” said Dr. Benjamin Chan, State Epidemiologist. “It is important that people take steps to prevent tick bites by wearing repellant effective against ticks, wearing long sleeves and pants when outside, and checking their bodies and their pets for ticks every time they are in habitats where ticks are more prevalent.”
“Like many people, I was personally impacted by Lyme disease when my business partner was no longer able to help with our company and enjoy life – I saw that this then, new disease, was wreaking havoc slowly on New Hampshire residents and affecting our state economy,” shares Frank Grossman, philanthropist behind the Tick Free NH initiative. “Tick Free NH is a public-private partnership with diverse stakeholders who are dedicated to raising awareness so that residents can protect themselves while enjoying our state.”
Lyme disease is a serious illness that can affect people of any age. The best ways to protect yourself from a tick bite are:
- Wear light-colored protective clothing and tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks.
- Treat your shoes and clothing with Permethrin – a chemical that repels and kills ticks, which is good for many washes.
- Apply tick repellent every time you go into a wooded, grassy, or brushy area – this includes gardening or playing in your lawn. Repellents with 20-30% DEET are effective, but there are other EPA repellants effective against ticks as well.
- Put your clothes in the dryer on high for 10 minutes (or one hour for damp clothes) to kill ticks.
- Shower after being outside to wash off any unattached ticks
- Conduct a daily tick check for yourself, child and pets.
- Lyme disease: New research on Borrelia burgdorferi persistence
- Lyme disease treatment: Some thoughts
- The history behind the Lyme disease controversy and what’s new in Lyme research
- Lone star ticks do not transmit the Lyme bacteria: Entomologist
- A look at the differences in geographical distribution of Lyme disease
- A new Lyme disease test: Dr Richard Marconi discusses the GLD Test
- Lyme disease, Stevia and the quest for better treatments
- Lyme disease: Borrelia biofilm in the body demonstrated
- Powassan virus: The spread is inevitable
- Lyme: Q & A with Paul Auwaerter, MD