Friday, December 2, 2005
BOH says check for ticks
Board of Health agent Linda Fantasia reports that state statistics collected over the past year show Carlisle a leader in the incidence of Lyme disease. Acton, with a population three times Carlisle's size, reports a similar number of cases. "We have a population that enjoys the outdoors," says Fantasia, noting that the "Carlisle lifestyle" puts residents at risk for Lyme disease.
Doctors have not always been consistent in reporting Lyme disease, in part because many treat suspected cases without testing. However, so far this year 21 positive cases have been reported. This compares to eight last year, but much of the increase may mean "doctors are doing a better job of reporting," says Fantasia. In addition, people are more aware of the disease and are more likely to visit a doctor if they have symptoms. The deer ticks which carry the disease are prevalant in this area, and are commonly carried into a house by pets. Tick preventative drops do not completely prevent this, so pets should be thoroughly checked after being outside (as should humans).
The Centers for Disease Control suggests avoiding low brush, wearing clothes that cover legs and arms, including long socks, and use of DEET insect repellants. Fantasia notes the Lyme vaccine is no longer offered. Symptoms of the disease include a large "bulls-eye" rash at the site of the bite within 3 to 30 days, fatigue, chills, fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and/or muscle and joint aches. Symptoms may vary, so anyone who thinks he/she may have been bitten is advised to consult a doctor. Untreated Lyme disease can result in meningitis, arthritis and chronic neurological complications.
Martha Bedrosian, BOH chair, suggests residents continue to be vigilant, in spite of the onset of winter, and notes she found a tick on herself just last week. "These warm spells seem to be bringing ticks back out."
© 2005 The