Increase in tick population prompts warning

June 15, 2009 4:16:08 PM PDT
There has been an increase in Lyme disease among dogs in our area. And now, there is growing concern that means we'll see the same in humans.Veterinarians in New Jersey say they're seeing an increase in cases.

The New Jersey Department of Health is urging residents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, as well as the importance of seeking medical treatment.

Ticks are usually found in brush and woodland, where they generally attach themselves to mice and deer. Deer ticks are the smaller species and the carriers of Lyme disease. Wood ticks, also known as dog ticks, are prevalent as well.

"We have seen a significant rise in the tick population predominantly in the past three weeks, which is probably due to the climate change," Veterinarian Dr. Robert Gordon, of Oakland Animal Hospital, told the Record of Bergen County. "And we find that these tests are very helpful when checking pets for any tick-borne diseases they might have contracted."

Mice are the primary host of Lyme disease, and ticks that feed on infected mice can then pass it on to humans or animals.

Symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • A bull's-eye rash
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Extreme fatigue

    Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics if detected early. But if untreated, serious heart and nervous system problems can develop.

    Other long-term effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Chronic stomach problems
  • Memory loss
  • Stiffness of joints
  • Speech impairment

    To avoid Lyme disease, health officials recommend:

  • Avoiding potential infestation areas
  • Use insect repellent
  • Wearing solid, light-colored clothing (on which the dark-colored tick will stand out) with pants tucked into socks so ticks can't infiltrate.
  • Frequently examining yourself, along with their children and pets, for ticks


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