Fall is Prime Lyme Disease Time

Folks need to be careful out in the woods, experts say

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SATURDAY, Nov. 1, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the woods, here's an autumn tick and Lyme disease warning from the American Lyme Disease Foundation.

"In the spring and summer months, humans and animals are threatened by the nymphal stage of black-legged (or deer) ticks infected with Lyme disease. But it's the adult stage of these ticks that's active from October through May -- any time the temperature rises above 30 degrees," David Weld, executive director of the foundation, says in a prepared statement.

He notes the percentage of infected adult deer ticks at this time of year is twice that of spring and summer tick nymphs. In the northeast United States, that means that 50 percent to 60 percent of adult deer ticks may be infected with Lyme disease.

"Adults, especially the females, are mighty hungry. Fall is the time of year 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. Deer and dogs are favorite targets," Weld says.

The majority of Lyme disease cases in the United States have occurred in the northeast, mid-Atlantic and north-central states. But it's also an emerging threat to people and pets in many other areas of the country.

Southern and western states such as Florida, the Carolinas, Texas and California are among the national leaders in percentage growth of reported Lyme disease cases in recent years.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] in Atlanta recently announced that 2002 witnesses the highest number of reported incidents of Lyme disease on record. Over the past year, 23,763 new cases of the disease were reported and an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 may have gone unreported to the CDC. That's an increase of nearly 25 per cent from 2000, the previous record infection year," Weld says.

More information

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

SOURCE: American Lyme Disease Foundation, news release, October 2003

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