Home Health Established for the first time in East Nebraska; Lyme disease could follow...

Established for the first time in East Nebraska; Lyme disease could follow health

The deer tick, a well-known carrier of the bacteria causing Lyme disease, first settled in eastern Nebraska, in the districts of Douglas, Sarpy and Saunders, health officials said on Tuesday.

The presence of the deer tick, also known as the black-legged tick, means that people can become infected with Lyme disease as they are bitten by infected ticks.

In a warning sent on Tuesday, health officials said that lab tests are being carried out to determine if the collected ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme or other known tick-borne pathogens.

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So far, Nebraska health officials have not confirmed cases of Lyme disease originating in the state. On Tuesday's alert, they encouraged health care providers to increase their alertness.

Typical symptoms of Lyme disease are fever, headache, fatigue and a rash that, according to the Federal Centers for the Control and Prevention of Diseases forms a porthole pattern. Lyme disease can be treated with a few weeks of antibiotics. Most people recover completely, although some have joint pain that can be treated with medication. Without treatment, however, the infection may spread and affect the joints, hearing and nervous system.

Confirmation of the presence of the tick is based on monitoring by the Department of Agriculture of Nebraska.

Residents of the three districts must pay attention to the tick and take precautions.

"You have to have this on your radar screen: we have another hook that has surfaced," said Roberto Cortinas of the University of Nebraska's School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

The problem is that the deer tick is very small and hard to spot – nymphs are dark and about the size of sesame seeds, and adults are slightly larger. Both can carry the bacteria and both can bite humans. The nymphs are usually found in the spring and should have reached their peak, Cortinas said. Adults should show up in late August and early September.

Deer ticks are usually found in wooded areas, he said, like those that were recently found in the state. People should check themselves, family members and pets after visiting such areas.

Anyone who believes that they are exposed to ticks should also take a shower. Pets that have been abandoned should be bathed.

Other ways to prevent tick bites:

  • Avoid tall grass and shrubs
  • Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts in bright colors
  • Do not wear sandals on shoes that cover your feet
  • Put the trouser legs in the socks and the shirts in the pants
  • Use an approved repellent that is also used for mosquitoes

Now that the ticks are in the state, they could spread, said Cortinas, but entomologists are not sure.

Plans for additional tick monitoring are made according to state health authorities.

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