Ticks that carry Lyme disease now in 45% of U.S. counties

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Ticks that carry Lyme disease now in 45% of U.S. counties

According to a statement made by study researcher Dr. Rebecca Eisen, a CDC biologist, the change in tick populations is substantial and "highlights areas where risk for human exposure to ticks has changed".

Patients with this disease commonly experience fever, headache and fatigue, which are also common symptoms of the flu. "The ticks are really everywhere unless you live in an incredible urban center where it's all asphalt and concrete", director of the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center, Dr. John Aucott said. This means that from the 396 counties, the spread has now spread to over 840 counties across 35 states in the country. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study reveals that multiple varieties of the blacklegged tick that carries the severely harmful disease have been spotted in 45 percent of American counties. Scientists also know now that northern ticks are more aggressive at finding hosts than southern ones, one reason why there has been such a boom in cases in the East. Combined, this is a 45 percent increase from 1998 when ticks were reported in 1,058 counties.

Eisen and her colleagues stated in their report that the number of Lyme disease infections in the United States has more than tripled since the 1990s.

According to Claire Asher of Science Magazine, "despite the wide distribution ... a tick's chances of coming into contact with a human are still relatively low". Blacklegged ticks are found in 37 states across the eastern United States. Attached ticks can be removed by using tweezers to pull slowly upward on their head. However, there are patients that are left untreated with the disease, which can lead to chronic neurological problems and joint inflammation for weeks or months or even years after its infection.

Meanwhile, western blacklegged ticks have established themselves in 95 different counties across six states, which is an increase from the 90 counties they inhabited in 1998.

Lyme disease is generally characterized by the presence of a rash near the tick's bite. Moreover, as per an analysis published in previous summer, health officials reported that the number of actual cases is around 329,000. The insects, however, remain centered in states along the Pacific coast. Other factors favoring tick expansion are warming climates and rain, though vast plains are effective bulwarks against further spread.

Throwing clothes worn when outdoors directly into the dryer for about 20 minutes is also believed to be a quick and easy way to kill ticks attached to the apparel. People should also have a friend or family member check their body for ticks, and check any pets.

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