Livingston County has for the first time been designated as a “known risk” for Lyme disease.

A map updated by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services shows the county in red, meaning the county has had “at least two confirmed local exposures and/or ticks/animals with Lyme bacteria.”

 

“This is the first time we’ve been in the red, but it’s not a surprise, because you can see the red (on the map) keeps moving east across the Lower Peninsula,” said Chelsea Lantto, health promotion coordinator for the Livingston County Health Department. “Because Ingham and Washtenaw are red, it was only a matter of time.”

Lantto said the designation is based on a case from last summer, in which a 2-year-old child was believed to have Lyme disease after coming in contact with a tick in a Howell park. The child’s pediatrician did not test for the disease, but began treating the symptoms. The tick believed to have bit the child was tested, and came back positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease.

Lyme disease can be spread to humans by the bite/burrowing of a tick that has been infected. Ticks get the illness by biting infected deer, mice, birds, or domestic animals.  Infected ticks must be attached to a host for more than 24 hours to transmit the bacteria. (please see my note following the article)

 

Lantto said there is no way to predict where an infected tick will be, but the county is full of the areas where they are typically found, which include parks, fields with tall grasses, and woods.

“The biggest message is always, always, always check yourself and your children after being outside to make sure you don’t have a tick attached,” Lantto said, adding pets should also be checked. “If you are outside, wear long pants, socks and sleeves.”

The county health department offers free testing of ticks suspected of carrying Lyme disease and Lantto encourages residents to bring in ticks if found.

Symptoms of Lyme disease include a “bull’s eye” rash, fever, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, malaise and headache. Anyone who has been bitten by a tick and begins experiencing symptoms should see a doctor immediately.

The Health Department offers the following tips to prevent Lyme disease:

  • Avoid areas that are tick infested, moist, brushy, wooded or overgrown with low lying vegetation.
  • Wear light colored clothing that covers arms and legs so that ticks can be more easily seen and removed. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots.
  • Apply insect repellant containing DEET to clothing and exposed skin or permethrin to clothing, following manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • When working or playing in wooded or grassy areas, check your body and clothing frequently for ticks.
  • When a tick is found, remove it by firmly gripping the body close to the skin with a pair of tweezers and pull straight out. Cleanse the area with soap and water.
  • After removal, keep tick in a sealed container with a moist paper towel and contact the health department for assistance regarding tick identification.

Contact Susan Bromley at sbromley@livingstondaily.com  Follow on Twitter @SusanBromley10

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**Comment**

  1.  While it is true Lyme CAN be spread by ticks, there is evidence for congenital and sexual transmission:  https://on-lyme.org/en/icd-codes/conditions/congenital-lyme-infection and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26489537
  2. Transmission of Lyme can & often does happen under 24 hours:  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/04/14/transmission-time-for-lymemsids-infection/
  3. Symptoms vary wildly and only 10-40% get the “classic” bullseye rash.  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/12/06/ahern-flawed-lyme-policies-diagnostics-and-treatment/  It’s rare, in my opinion.  While fever, muscle aches, and malaise are common, some peoples’ only symptoms are psychological.  They can suffer from anxiety, depression, memory loss, confusion, and so much more.  Go here for a list of symptoms:  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2016/02/13/lyme-disease-treatment/ (Symptoms included in the Horowitz questionnaire)
  4. I’m thankful they treated the girl and didn’t wait for test results as the current CDC two-tiered testing misses over half of the cases:  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/12/06/ahern-flawed-lyme-policies-diagnostics-and-treatment/
  5. Lastly, this article omits the elephant in the room – ticks are typically coinfected with numerous pathogens with the ability to transmit & make you sick:   https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/07/01/one-tick-bite-could-put-you-at-risk-for-at-least-6-different-diseases/ (The actual number is 16 and counting)

For those of you in Michigan, please take advantage of the FREE Tick testing:

http://www.michigan.gov/documents/emergingdiseases/Tick_testing_flow_chart_227376_7.pdf  As part of an effort to streamline public tick submission and testing, we have developed a kit for submitting ticks to the MDHHS. The kit consists of a screw cap plastic vial, a self-addressed, padded return envelope, a submission form, instructions for submission, and the Ticks and Your Health brochure.  The kit is available at no charge and can be obtained at your local health department:  https://malph.org/resources/directory
Alternatively, kits may be ordered via the Communicable Disease Division’s publication order form:  http://www.michigan.gov/documents/emergingdiseases/Publication_Order_Form_357623_7.pdf