Lyme Disease Will Spike This Year

Jonathan De Los Santos, journalism Student

Scientists are predicting a spike in Lyme disease this spring. Dr. Rick Ostfeld of Millbrook, NY is one of the scientists to make this prediction based on a recent boom in acorn production.

What do acorns have to do with the explosion in the tick population and spread of Lyme disease? Acorn crops vary from year to year and the more the acorn population increases, the sooner small mammals such as the white-footed rabbit cease hibernation. Ticks love to feed upon these types of animals.

Ostfeld says, “This spring, there will be a lot of Borrelia burgdorferi-infected black-legged ticks in our forests looking for a blood meal. And instead of finding a white-footed mouse, they are going to find other mammals—like us.”

The spike in Lyme Disease will last from April to September this year. Jennifer Reld community coordinator of tick-borne disease prevention program and part of the Ridgefield Health Department and Laura Vasile director of the Bethel Health Department have provided tips that we can fallow to prevent and protect ourselves from ticks.

  • Wear repellent
  • Check for ticks daily
  • Shower soon after being outdoors
  • Call your doctor if you experience a fever or rash.
  • They have also told us to use blast for Lyme disease prevention.
  • Look for ticks and remove them with fine tipped tweezers
  • Spray the perimeter of your yard with repellent
  • *Treat your pets with products recommended by your veterinarian.

Jennifer Reld says there are specific signs and symptoms to look for such as a rash. “Bells palsy (facial paralysis) is one sign,” she says. “So is a bull’s eye rash or an arthritic knee.” Reld recommends that if you experience any of these, immediately call a doctor.

Vasile and Reld also recommend further preventive action when going outdoors. They say when walking in the middle of trails, avoid sitting on logs and leaning on trees, wear a hat and tuck in hair. If possible wear shoes and do not wear sandal or walk barefooted. Wear long pants or socks, and apply duct tape around pants. Wear white or light colored clothing to make seeing ticks easier to see, and do tick checks immediately fallowing and three days after outdoors activities.

So be forewarned. Be vigilant and keep the little critters away!