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Ticks with Lyme disease in ND (05/05/16)

With warmer spring weather, tick season is upon us. So far, we have identified the smaller black legged tick (or deer tick), Ixodes scapularis, and the larger dog ticks, Dermacentor variabilis, from areas of North Dakota and Minnesota.

Ticks with Lyme disease in ND

With warmer spring weather, tick season is upon us. So far, we have identified the smaller black legged tick (or deer tick), Ixodes scapularis, and the larger dog ticks, Dermacentor variabilis, from areas of North Dakota and Minnesota. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following strategies for field workers and preventing tick bites:hort.knodel.tick

  • Minimizing Direct Contact with Ticks by avoiding woody and high grass areas and walking in center of trails, if possible. Ticks are most active in May through August in North Dakota.
  • Use repellent with 20-30% DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on exposed skin and clothing. This should provide several hours of protection. Or wear clothing treated with permethrin.
  • Quickly find and remove any ticks from body by using a tweezers. Grasp tick close to skin and pull straight up to avoid breaking off the tick’s mouthparts in the skin. Clean bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  • Inspect and bath yourself within 2 hours after coming indoors to find any ticks crawling on you and to remove them before they attach to feed on your blood. Ticks like to hides in hair, armpits and other areas that may be difficult to inspect.
  • Wash any clothing that you were wearing soon and then dry in high heat for an hour to kill any ticks. Otherwise, ticks can attach to you later after hitchhiking on your clothes into home.
  • Reduce tick habitat near home.
    • Keep lawns mowed around home.
    • Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns, patio or play areas and wooded areas to prevent tick movement.
    • Exclude wildlife (especially deer) that may be carrying ticks into your yard.
  • Some insecticides registered for control of ticks by homeowners in residential areas include:  carbaryl (Sevin®), cyfluthrin (Tempo®, Powerforce™), permethrin (Astro®, Ortho® products, Bonide® products), and pyrethrin (Pyrenone®, Kicker®). Always read and follow the EPA approved label on the product container.

The CDC reports that Lyme disease was the fifth most common ‘National notifiable disease’ in 2014 and about 300,000 people get Lyme disease each year.  Ixodes scapularis or black legged tick (deer tick) vectors Lyme disease. Lyme disease is concentrated in 14 states in the Northeast and upper Midwest regions.

The incidence of Lyme disease was near 16.4% in Minnesota and <1% in North Dakota in 2015. However, Ixodes scapularis is moving west into North Dakota and is considered established in northeastern North Dakota. The North Dakota Department of Health confirmed Lyme disease in five counties last year:  Cass, Grand Forks, McIntosh, Mercer and Towner counties. A Survey of Ticks (Acari:  Ixodidae) and Tick-Borne Pathogens in North Dakota that was published in the Journal of Medical Entomology also confirmed black legged ticks in six counties:  Eddy, Grand Forks, Pembina, Ramsey, Rolette, and Steele counties (see map below).

hort.knodel.tick.map

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.  Symptoms of Lyme disease includes:  Bull’s eye rash, headache, fever and fatigue. In a worst case scenario, infections can cause arthritic joints, and affect the nervous system causing facial paralysis, and spinal cord, brain or heart problems. Lyme disease must be treated immediately with antibiotics. It can take 2 to 3 weeks to recovery if treated early. The later you wait for treatment; your symptoms will become more severe and more difficult to cure. For more information, please see the CDC website:  http://www.cdc.gov/Lyme/

Janet J. Knodel

Extension Entomologist

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