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Ticks & Lyme Disease

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Published on Jul 16, 2016

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. The blacklegged tick (or deer tick, Ixodes scapularis) spreads the disease in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic and north-central United States. The western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) spreads the disease on the Pacific Coast.

Ticks can attach to any part of the human body but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits and scalp. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted.

Most humans are infected through the bites of immature ticks called nymphs. Nymphs are tiny (less than 2 mm) and difficult to see; they feed during the spring and summer months. Adult ticks can also transmit Lyme disease bacterium, but they are much larger and are more likely to be discovered and removed before they have had time to infect a person.

Lyme disease can produce a wide range of symptoms, depending on the stage of infection. These may include fever, headache, fatigue, facial paralysis, arthritis and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans (EM). If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system.

People are encouraged to seek medical attention if they observe any of these symptoms and have had a tick bite, live in an area known for Lyme disease, or have recently traveled to an area where Lyme disease occurs. Laboratory blood tests are helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. The ticks themselves can also be quickly tested for the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi utilizing PCR-based DNA analysis.

Lyme disease is just one of many conditions that can be transmitted to humans by tick bites. The CDC lists a series of pathogens and diseases that are also associated with ticks. (http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/)

These are just a few things to know about ticks and Lyme disease. To learn more about this or other microbial pathogens and environmental, occupational or health and safety issues, please visit the websites shown below.

Clark Seif Clark http://www.csceng.com
EMSL Analytical, Inc. http://www.emsl.com
LA Testing http://www.latesting.com
Zimmetry Environmental http://www.zimmetry.com
Healthy Indoors Magazine http://www.iaq.net
VOETS - Verification, Operations and Environmental Testing Services http://www.voets.nyc

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