American Dog Tick (right) and Deer Tick nymph (left) on palm
of man's hand. Deer Tick nymphs are responsible for 80% of human
cases of Lyme Disease. Photo Courtesy of the Dept. of Agricultural
Journalism, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.
has become a prevalent problem in the last few years. It not only affects
hikers and campers, but can also affect people walking across suburban
lawns or city lots. Lyme Disease is caused by a spirochete bacterium that
is transmitted generally through the bite of infected ticks. Not all ticks
can the spirochete, so not all bites lead to Lyme Disease.
area, the main culprit is the deer tick (Ixodes dammini). Ticks
feed on the blood of mammals, and usually acquire the spirochete infection
during its immature stages of life (larva and nymph). Deer ticks don't
just live on deer. Most of their life is spent in underbrush or in the
nests of rodents. The infected tick may go on to bite a human, and transmit
the spirochete into the human. Cats, dogs, horses, and cows all have been
known to get Lyme Disease also.
deer tick is about the size of a sesame seed, smaller than other species
of ticks. The body of the female is dark brown to black, with a distinctive
brick red abdomen. The adult male tick is smaller than the female, and
is uniformly brown to black in color.
IS NO SUCH THING AS "TICK SEASON". TICKS CAN
BE OUT ALL YEAR LONG.
tall grass, weeds, or shrubby areas. Keep to well-worn trails.
pants into socks, and keep shirt tucked in also. Wear hats, and tight-weave
will help, but follow instructions of product exactly. Spray repellent
only on clothing.
yourself daily. Do periodic tick checks if outside for a long time.
Check entire body and clothing.
are out all year, but they are less in number when it is cold out.
Minimization of Tick Population
To try and
lower the human-to-tick contact, there are a few things we can do:
yard waste, brush piles, leaf litter, and wood piles. These are prime
tick "free" zones between the edge of lawns and brushy tick
habitat. Edged, mulched, and weed-free flower beds are an example.
- Mow grass
around buildings, home lawns, and along paths- no higher than four inches.
contact between your yard and wild animals. Try not to attract animals
such as deer, mice, or rabbits.
pets out of brushy, high grass areas.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
another tick-borne illness that is caused by a bacteria transmitted during
the feeding process of infected ticks. In Southern New Jersey, there are
reported cases every year, and the main culprit is the dog tick. Not every
tick bite will result in RMSF. For more information on Rocky Mountain
Spotted Fever follow this link to the US Center for Disease Control and
questions about tick borne illnesses may be directed to Atlantic
County Division of Public Health at 645-7700 ext.4248.