Tracking Tickborne Diseases This Fall

October 20, 2023

If you spend any time outdoors in Maine you can encounter an eight-legged cuddle bug that you don’t want to get cozy with: a tick. Mainer’s can meet up with ticks while raking leaves, walking on a road shoulder, cutting trees, hiking or mountain biking, or playing at a park. Ticks in Maine may carry and transmit Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases.

Know tick habitat and use caution in areas where ticks may live. Fields, ditches, woods and overgrown lawns are favorite hideouts for ticks. Since deer ticks can be active any time the temperature is above freezing, take these simple steps every day to prevent tick bites: wear light colored clothing, tuck pant bottoms into socks, and use an EPA-approved repellent such as: DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Check for Ticks and Check for Symptoms

Get in the habit of doing tick checks on yourself (this is where a friend or neighbor can come in handy), family members, and pets daily and after any outdoor activity. For Lyme disease transmission to occur, a tick must be attached for 24-48 hours, so finding and removing ticks as early as possible is best. A tick can bite any part of a body, but they prefer warm, moist areas like the armpits, behind the knees, between the legs, around the ears and on the head.

If a tick bites you watch for symptoms for up to 30 days after exposure and call a doctor if symptoms develop. The most common symptom of Lyme disease is a skin rash known as the “bull’s-eye” rash. The rash usually appears 3-30 days after the tick bite and can show up at the bite site or anywhere else on the body. Other symptoms include fever, headache, and joint or muscle pain. Lyme disease is treatable, and most people recover fully.

Lyme disease is not the only disease that deer ticks in Maine can carry. Anaplasmosis and babesiosis are two tickborne diseases that are increasing across the state. The deer tick is the only species of tick in Maine that can pass the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

Maine tickborne disease data in near real time

Maine Tick Data

The Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention publishes near real-time tickborne disease data available through the Maine Tracking Network website. The site provides daily updates on the number of cases of Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis reported and classified so far in 2023, as well as weekly updates on the number of tick-related emergency department visits.

Check out the data!