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Ticks Are the Peskiest of Hitchhikers

Infected Ticks Spread Lyme Disease to Human Hosts Within 24 Hours

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Most reported cases of Lyme Disease in the U.S. occur during the summer months, prime time for outdoor activities such as camping and gardening.

How Do Humans Become Infected with Lyme Disease?

Ticks cannot leap or jump like fleas, however they can detect shadows, body odors and exhaled carbon dioxide of potential hosts. They most often lie in wait in brush and once they make direct contact with a host's clothing or hair, the tick crawls to skin where it attaches with barbed mouthparts and cementing secretions. Then, nerve-numbing saliva is injected into the bite area along with a cocktail of anticoagulants to keep the blood meal flowing.

If undisturbed for 24 to 36 hours, an infected tick’s saliva can infect its host by transferring the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease.

Symptoms

Infected persons complain of flu-like symptoms like fatigue, stiff necks, fever and swollen glands. They also develop oval-shaped red rashes on their bodies almost overnight.

Treatment

Patients are normally treated with a four-week course of antibiotics and most recover completely without any lasting effects. Left untreated, Lyme Disease can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system and even cause death.

Is Lyme Disease Contagious?

There are no scientifically documented cases of human to human transmission of Lyme Disease, although some scientists believe that a pregnant mother may be able to pass the infection to her unborn child.

Prevention

Avoid tall grass or brushy areas, particularly those not sunlit and dry. If you cannot, wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and tuck your pants into your socks. Tie long hair into a ponytail and wear it under a hat. When you disrobe, use a full length or handheld mirror to check your body from head to toe for embedded ticks. Parents should check their children’s necks and scalps carefully.

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