Lyme disease first appeared near the Connecticut town of Old Lyme around 1975, but the connection of the sickness to the bacteria carried by a deer tick was not deciphered until five or six years later. Since then Lyme disease has across the U.S. and Canada and around the world……and it is still spreading even today. Following is a list of facts about Lyme disease.
Lyme Disease Facts
1. Lyme disease is a worldwide infectious disease. Currently. the disease is present in every continent except Antarctica.
2. Most often the disease is transmitted by the bite of a deer tick, a small arachnid that is very difficult to see with the naked eye.
3. It is estimated that only 50 per cent of bites by infected ticks leave the telltale Bull’s Eye Rash associated with Lyme Disease.
4. The root cause of the disease is a spirochete bacteria that is scientifically classified in the Borrelia genus.
5. The top ten states for Lyme disease cases in 2011 were Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Maryland, New Hampshire and Virginia.
6. The bacteria that causes Lyme disease is hard to detect and hard to kill.
7. From 2002 to 2007 the Center for Disease Control (USA) reported that the number of deaths from Lyme Disease was the same (36) as those reported from Rocky Mountain Tick Fever.
8. Deer do not cause Lyme disease.
9. The deer tick is not an insect. It is an arachnid, a classification group that also includes mites and spiders.
Mice and Bacteria
Though much has been said about the deer tick and the large mammal (the deer) that it is associated with it, little has been said about the beginning part of the life cycle, when the deer tick is infected with the microscopic bacteria spirochete that ultimately causes Lyme disease. Spirochete is a scientific term than refers to the spiral shape of the bacteria organism. The Lyme disease bacteria, which is of the genus Borrelia, can be found in the blood stream and tissues of the white-footed mouse.
The mouse is widespread over the eastern two thirds of the US with a much more limited range in southern Canada and eastern Mexico. Also known as the wood mouse, this animal has a preference for brushy or grassy fields and drier woodlands. It often nests underground and in its appearance it is very similar to the more abundant deer mouse.
The Deer Tick
The deer tick plays an instrumental role in transmitting the disease bacteria from the mouse to larger mammals, such as man. As a result, understanding the life cycle of the deer tick can help comprehend how the bacteria spreads from mice to humans. This ticks cycle begins in the spring, when fully-fed female ticks drop from their host and fall to the ground. After they lay their eggs the females die. Later in summer, the larvae emerge and find a host, usually a small rodent or bird that happens to brush against the minute organism. The larvae find their way to the skin of an animal and draws some blood. Then in the fall, the larva drops off its host and morphs into a nymph, which goes into the dormant stage for the winter.
The following spring, the nymph revives to life and now goes about finding the next host, usually a small mammal or bird. The nymph is much larger than the larva and so it is able to climb up onto vegetation in order to attach itself to an animal. Once it is full of blood, the nymph drops to the ground and quickly grows into an adult. By now, fall has arrived and the adult must find its last host, where it can grow and mate, so a new generation can be born.
For the human population, the most dangerous stage is the nymph. Since the nymph is so small, it is rarely detected and so it may remain on its host for a long period time, thus passing on the Lyme disease, if the larvae have been feeding on an infected bird or mammal. The adult tick is also capable of releasing the bacterial pathogen to its host, but by this stage, the tick is more readily spotted and removed. Keep in mind, that a deer tick must remain on its host for more than 36 hours for infection to occur.