Ticks And Lyme Disease: Your Complete Guide To Staying Safe This Summer

The summer season brings many joys, especially for those of us who love the great outdoors, but the warm weather also comes with a few dangers.[slideshow:1398]

Ticks, particularly those that carry disease, are one of those summer hazards people fear most. While these tiny bloodsuckers have the ability to carry a myriad of diseases, they are best known for transmitting Lyme disease. Only blacklegged ticks (deer ticks) can transmit the disease to humans and while there are blacklegged ticks that don't carry the disease, the cases of Lyme disease seem to trend upward over the years.

With the growing number of cases throughout the northeast and the upper Midwest and the impending arrival of summer, you should know about ticks, Lyme disease and how to protect yourself. We consulted the CDC, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society for everything you need to know about ticks and Lyme disease this summer season.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is an infection spread by ticks that carry a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Blacklegged Ticks (also known as deer ticks) that carry the bacteria can infect humans, causing a number of symptoms that range in severity, from a skin rash in early stages to joint inflammation and heart problems later on. While Lyme disease can be fatal, fatalities are rare. Not all blacklegged ticks are infected, but cases of Lyme disease have been on the rise.

Who is at risk?

Cases of Lyme disease occur primarily in the northeast and upper Midwest of the U.S., according to the CDC. In 2013, 95 percent of all cases in the country took place in just 14 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The map from the CDC shows the 2013 data and there have been some cases found along the west coast.

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