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Autumn Temps Keep Lyme Ticks in Business

They thrive in weather above 30 degrees, experts say

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 1, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Those warm fall days so many people wish for actually raise the risk of Lyme disease, experts say.

That's because the ticks that carry Lyme disease thrive in such weather, says the American Lyme Disease Foundation. As long as temperatures stay above 30 degrees, they say, autumn ranks as a high-risk time for the disease.

In spring and summer months, the problem stems from deer ticks in their tiny nymphal stage. In the fall, the larger adult ticks can transmit the disease when they attach to people or their pets.

"Adults, especially the females, are mighty hungry," says David Weld, the foundation's executive director. "They're looking for meals to feed their eggs. They're sitting on vegetation 10 inches to 2 feet off the ground, waiting for a good host to walk by."

Lyme disease has struck particularly in the northeast, mid-Atlantic and north-central United States, but experts describe it as an emerging threat nationwide. Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 23,763 new cases of the disease in people. Most people recognize Lyme disease first by its telltale bull's-eye rash. Other symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and muscle and joint pain.

The foundation says Lyme disease occurs in dogs twice as often as it does people. Because animals often show no outward signs of the ailment, many veterinarians now urge that pets be given a blood test once a year to check for Lyme disease.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about Lyme disease.

SOURCE: American Lyme Disease Federation, news release, Sept. 25, 2003
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