AUGUSTA – The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention urges Maine people to take precautions against ticks during May, which is Lyme Disease Awareness Month.
This year’s Lyme Disease Awareness Month theme is “Tick Tock,” which reminds Mainers to slow down and take time to practice tick and tickborne disease prevention. Deer ticks, which can carry the germs that cause tickborne diseases such as Lyme, anaplasmosis and babesiosis, are most commonly found in wooded, leafy and shrubby areas, meaning most Mainers are at risk every day. Individuals and families spending more time outdoors, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, should take steps to limit their exposure to ticks.
Ticks are already active in Maine. The following four strategies help to prevent exposure to ticks and the diseases they carry:
- Use caution in areas where ticks may be found.
- Use an EPA-approved repellent such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Wear light-colored clothing that covers the arms and legs and tuck pants into socks.
- Perform tick checks daily and after any outdoor activity.
Health care providers reported at least 2,150 confirmed and probable Lyme disease cases to Maine CDC in 2019. The most commonly reported symptom was an erythema migrans or “bullseye” rash. Other common symptoms include arthritis, fatigue, chills, fever, headache and swollen lymph nodes.
For more information, visit www.maine.gov/lyme.
The Maine Tracking Network offers a variety of Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis data in the “Data Portal” at data.mainepublichealth.gov/tracking. It includes near real-time tickborne disease data for 2020, and preliminary data for 2019 and tickborne disease data at the town-level from 2014 to 2018. The MTN will publish 2019 data early this summer on tickborne disease data by county, gender and age for 2001-2018, as well as tick submission data from 1989-2013, through a collaboration with the Maine Medical Center Research Institute’s Vectorborne Disease Laboratory.
Tick identification and testing is available through the Tick Lab at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. More information can be found at ticks.umaine.edu. Tick identification is available for free.
Tick testing is available for $15 with a three-day turnaround time. The tick testing service is available only to Maine residents. This testing service is for surveillance purposes only. Contact your health care provider for concerns about tickborne illnesses. Tick testing data are available as tables, reports and maps, and include real-time updates and can be found at https://extension.umaine.edu/ticks/maine-tick-data/.