What Do 55 Degree Days and Yale University Have in Common?

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By Stacy Skoldberg on March 29, 2013, 10:55am Last modified: March 29, 2013, 10:57am

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If you live in Connecticut, then you know that Lyme disease was named in part after the town that it was found in, Lyme. If you live in Connecticut, you also know that Yale is a large university and one of the leaders in medicine.

What do 55 degree days and Yale University have in common? Ticks come out at 55 degrees and Yale University found a new tick based illness.

Although the study came out in 2011, the tests for this disease are getting more effective and in the pesticide world the discussions are front and center about tick diseases. On Jan. 20, 2013, the Medical News Journal reported 18 confirmed cases of a new tick-bourne illness in New England.

What is Lyme disease?

Although most people broadly know about Lyme disease, it is thought to be caused by being bit by a deer tick carrying the disease although other mammals carry ticks. If you live in Connecticut, it’s never a question of if you have ticks in your yard, it’s a question of if you are treating for them.

Ticks are everywhere. Borrelia burgdorferi is the spirochete (or bacteria) that causes Lyme disease. The Center for Disease Control states that approximately 25,000 Americans are treated for Lyme disease yearly with a short course of antibiotics. There is a standardized test given for Lyme disease, although it is widely thought in medical circles that people have variations of Lyme disease that does not appear on the test. Patients complain of Lyme like symptoms, but the test yields a negative.

What is the new disease?

The latest well documented tick disease can not be referred to as a named disease because it has no name. It has been widely written about, including by the New York Times and Yale Public Health.

The spirochete-type bacteria thought to be responsible for the disease is called borrelia miyamotoi. It has been found in the same hard bodied deer ticks that Lyme disease comes from. The symptoms are similar to Lyme disease except that in addition to joint pain and fatigue a high fever and flu like symptoms occur too. It does not leave the classic red bulls-eye that Lyme disease is thought to leave. A full discussion of the study can be found in the Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal.

How was it discovered?

It was discovered by Yale scientists studying in Russia. The National Institutes of Health has given a grant to study the cause, find a test and cure for it.

How do researcher think humans get the disease?

Ixodes scapularis, popularly called a deer tick, transmits both Lyme disease and babesiosis in the United States. A nymph deer tick is the size of a poppy seed. During fall, the adult ticks feed on deer, which are plentiful in yards.  They do this to complete their breeding cycle. In spring and summer months, the ticks wait on surfaces for a mammal host, which often times is a human. The single most important time of year to spray for ticks is fall to kill the pregnant ticks. If you missed that window, early spring is your next window.

How can you protect yourself?

Wear light color clothing, which makes ticks easier to see and do not re-wear clothes that you have worn outdoors. Use a magnifying glass to check yourself once a day when you are nude. Supplement that with a mirror if need be to see every area of your body; ticks prefer most warm areas of the body, including behind the ears and the groin.

The earlier a tick is removed the better. Ticks should be removed by pulling straight out with tweezers and not in a twisting fashion; the entire tick needs to removed at one time. Keep deer off your property via fencing, planting deer-resistant plants and spraying your yard for deer. The average 200-pound deer has 500 ticks on it. Spray your yard for deer ticks using commercial grade organic or traditional pesticides.

To see the full tick life cycle click here.

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Stacy Skoldberg

Town: Orange, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since March 2013.

Articles: 58

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