NH Department of Health and Human
129 Pleasant Street – Hugh Gallen State Office Park
Concord, NH 03301
FOR MORE INFORMATION
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jake Leon, Director of Communications
May 16, 2017
603-271-9290 or firstname.lastname@example.orgNH Department of Health
and Human Services Urges Residents to Take Precautions Against Multiple
Diseases Carried by TicksConcord, NH – The ticks are already out in
New Hampshire, and the NH Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) wants
to remind people living in and visiting the State to take precautions against
being bitten by ticks and potentially exposed to Lyme disease and other
tick-borne illnesses. New Hampshire has one of the highest incidence rates of
Lyme in the country. According to the DHHS Division of Public Health Services
(DPHS), there were an estimated 1,373 cases of Lyme disease identified in the
State in 2015, the most recent year for which data are available.
Tick bites can cause other diseases besides Lyme
disease. In 2015, there were also 110 cases of anaplasmosis reported, which is
caused by a bacterium, and 53 cases of babesiosis, which is caused by a parasite.
There have also been two cases of the Powassan virus in New Hampshire
residents, the first in 2013 and second in 2016, but it is not known if these
were acquired in New Hampshire. The majority of Powassan cases are seen in the
Northeast and upper Midwest, which is similar to anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and
Lyme disease. These diseases are all transmitted by the blacklegged (or deer)
“Ticks are out, and while we want to encourage
people to enjoy the outdoors, we also want to encourage people to take steps to
prevent themselves, family members, and pets from being bitten by ticks,” said
Dr. Benjamin Chan, NH State Epidemiologist. “Preventing tick bites is the best
way to avoid getting sick from any number of diseases that ticks can carry.”
DHHS recommends taking the following precautions to
prevent tick bites:
Avoid tick-infested areas such as overgrown
grass, brush, and leaf litter
Use an insect repellent containing DEET or oil
of lemon eucalyptus every time you spend time outdoors
Wear protective clothing (long pants and long
sleeves to keep ticks off skin)
Do daily tick checks on yourself, family
members, and pets after being outdoors
Reduce ticks around your home by keeping grass
short and removing leaf litter
Speak with your healthcare provider if you are
bitten by a tick or if you notice a large bull’s-eye rash anywhere on you
remove an imbedded tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp
the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible or if none is
available use your fingernails. Pull upward with steady, even pressure.
After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands
with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia
burgdoferi and is transmitted to people by the bite of an infected
blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick. The greatest risk for Lyme is
between the months of May and August, when the blacklegged tick is in the
juvenile stage; it’s the size of a poppy seed and very difficult to detect, so
individuals may be unaware that they have been bitten.
Early symptoms of Lyme disease may include fever,
headache, fatigue, and often a skin rash that is round and/or looks like a
bullseye. Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics, but if left untreated can
lead to severe headaches and neck pain caused by meningitis (inflammation of
the protective covering surrounding the brain and spinal cord), pain and
swelling in the large joints, shooting nerve pains, and abnormal heart rhythms.
Symptoms of anaplasmosis and babesiosis may include
fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches; some individuals may not have
symptoms. Individuals who are older or whose immune system may not function
well can have severe infection with these organisms requiring hospitalization.
Both anaplasmosis and babesiosis are treatable with antibiotics.
Powassan is caused by a virus transmitted through
the bite of a black-legged tick, and symptoms include fever, headache,
vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties, and
seizures. Approximately half of people who become sick from Powassan have
permanent neurological symptoms, such as recurrent headaches, muscle
wasting, and memory problems. There is no specific treatment for Powassan.
For more information about Lyme disease and other
tick-borne diseases, visit the DHHS website at www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/lyme/
or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/ticks/ .