FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Adam Liegeot, 860-524-7313
May 10, 2008 Adam.Liegeot@ct.gov
Governor Rell Proclaims Lyme Disease Prevention Month
As warm weather arrives in Connecticut, Governor M. Jodi Rell is urging the public to take steps to prevent Lyme disease.
“By taking a few relatively simple precautions, people can still enjoy the outdoors and decrease their chances of being bitten by an infected tick,” said Governor Rell. “The majority of Lyme disease cases were likely acquired from deer tick bites occurring near the home. A few simple steps can significantly help reduce the risk of infection when you are outdoors in your own back yard, or enjoying other warm weather activities.”
The Governor has designated May as Lyme disease prevention month. Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection transmitted to humans by the bite of infected blacklegged (deer) ticks. Lyme disease can be acquired in any Connecticut town, particularly in wooded areas of the state. During 2007, DPH identified 3,058 confirmed cases of Lyme disease.
· PERSONAL PROTECTION:
o Use insect repellent containing 30%-40% DEET. Follow package instructions. Do not apply under clothing or to children under 2 years.
o Wear light-colored clothing and tuck long pants into the socks to make ticks easier to detect, and to help keep them off of your skin. Also, wear close- toed shoes.
o Do thorough tick checks of yourself, your children and pets. Completely remove any ticks found.
o Research has found, the sooner you remove an attached tick, the less likely you will become infected with Lyme disease. Remove ticks within 24 hours.
· REMOVING A TICK:
o Using tweezers, grasp the tick mouthparts as close to the skin as possible, and pull the tick out with steady pressure. Do not yank the tick out or squeeze its body.
o Thoroughly wash the area with soap and water, then dry and apply a topical antiseptic.
o Hot matches, nail polish remover, petroleum jelly and other substance are not recommended removal methods, and may actually increase your chance of infection.
o Contact your physician if you are bitten and watch for early symptoms.
· LANDSCAPE MANAGEMENT:
o Keep grass mowed.
o Remove leaf litter, brush, and tall weeds from around the home and at the lawn’s edge.
o Use plantings that do not attract deer or exclude deer through various types of fencing.
o Move firewood, and birdhouses and feeders away from the home.
o Create a 3-foot or wider wood chip, mulch, or gravel barrier between your lawn and woods
· PET MANAGEMENT:
o Minimize time that dogs and cats spend outdoors and access to areas with leaf litter, brush, and tall weeds. This may help reduce the number of ticks brought back into the home.
o Check pets for ticks when they come indoors.
o Check with your veterinarian regarding methods to prevent your pet from tick bites.
For additional information on ticks and tick-bite prevention including landscape management, please visit: http://www.ct.gov/caes and click “Tick Management Handbook.”
“While these steps can significantly reduce your chances of Lyme disease infection, no method is 100% effective,” Governor Rell said. “Lyme disease can still infect you, your children, or your pets. However, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. If caught early, recovery outcomes are excellent.”
Early symptoms of Lyme disease include:
o Rash – Lyme disease is frequently characterized by an expanding red rash at the site of the tick bite. Rashes can occur anywhere on the body, and vary in size and shape. The rash can be warm to the touch, but is not usually painful or itchy.
o Fever and/or chills
o Muscle and joint pain
o Stiff neck
Left untreated, Lyme disease infection can worsen and include symptoms involving joint swelling (Lyme arthritis), neurologic and cardiac complications. If you experience any of these symptoms after a tick bite, contact your primary care physician right away. For additional information on Lyme disease, visit the DPH web site at www.ct.gov/dph and click “Programs and Services” for the Lyme disease link, or call 860-509-7994.