We don't imagine you are wondering if we have ticks in Maine, if you live here you know these pests are prevalent. They're also a serious problem, and that problem is growing. Here are some facts about ticks in Maine that will help you better understand this threat.
There are a lot of ticks in Maine.
There is no county in Maine that does not have ticks, and Maine is home to several species. We have black-legged ticks (deer ticks), squirrel ticks, woodchuck ticks, rabbit ticks, brown dog ticks, and Lone Star ticks. If you intend to go out into the woods, take proper precautions.
Ticks are not only found in nature.
Ticks can be in your yard and even in your house. Ticks ride on animals. They'll ride into your yard, and even into your house, if mice, rats, squirrels, or other animals have found their way in. It is important to understand that when you see wild animals, those animals can have these creatures living on them. While it may stink to have a skunk living under your porch, it stinks even worse to step in a nest of ticks because that skunk brought ticks into your yard.
Tick diseases in Maine.
"The diseases ticks carry are scary," may sound like a line from a Dr. Seuss book, but it is a warning that should be taken seriously. These tiny bugs can carry Lyme disease, an inflammatory illness that can lead to serious medical issues later in life such as cardiac disorders, arthritis, and neurological problems.
Ticks are also able to carry granulocytic ehrlichiosis and babesiosis, both of which have been found in Maine. Human granulocytic ehrlichiosis, known as HGA, is an infectious disease caused by Anaplasma phagocytophilum. The symptoms of this disease are high fever, headaches, muscle aches, chills, and a general feeling of weakness and fatigue. There is a risk of serious illness and even death increase with advancing age. Babesiosis is a disease that is characterized by flu-like symptoms, such as chills, sweats, fever, headache, body aches, nausea, loss of appetite, and fatigue. Since this disease attacks red blood cells, it may cause hemolytic anemia.
Black-legged ticks are the ticks that carry Lyme disease.
The only tick in Maine that carries Lyme disease is the black-legged tick. While this can seem like good news at first, it is important to note that the black-legged tick is the smallest of the ticks you'll find. Worse still, the American Lyme Disease Foundation asserts that nearly all of human Lyme disease cases come from nymphs (baby ticks), which can be the size of a poppy seed and easily missed. If you do an examination for ticks after being outside, make sure you look closely, especially in nooks and crannies and behind your ears.
Lyme disease cases in Maine are on the rise.
The first documented case of Lyme disease here in the state of Maine was diagnosed in 1986. Since then there have been thousands of documented cases. The vast majority of those cases were reported in Southern Maine.
Lyme disease can be prevented.
It takes 24 to 48 hours for the corkscrew-shaped bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi to fully transfer from a tick. If the tick is caught in time and removed, infection can be prevented. Early treatment of Lyme disease is also available to prevent the long-term medical complications. But this is a disease that has been widely misdiagnosed, due to the fact that Lyme disease doesn't always leave its signature bullseye rash.
Be sure to remove ticks properly.
If you find a tick, be sure to remove it properly. Improper removal can cause a tick to regurgitate into the wound. Get a pair of fine-pointed tweezers, or a tick removal kit, and pinch the tick as close to your skin as possible. Slowly squeeze and pull outward to remove.
Ticks are out all winter long.
There are reported cases of hunters and children getting ticks on them in the middle of the winter. These creatures do not hibernate, and they can be active in temperatures as low as 38 degrees.
Ticks and Pets in Maine
If you allow your dog or cat to roam around outside, they can bring ticks inside. This can be a danger to you and your pet. Animals can contract Lyme disease as well. And, contraction of this disease is so common, the State no longer requires small animal veterinary clinics to report cases of the disease in dogs because they couldn't keep up with the flood of reports.
Protect yourself and your pets by getting regular tick treatments for your yard, speak with your vet about a tick treatment for your pet and make sure your home is sealed from invading wildlife like mice, rats, squirrels, or raccoons. Ticks in Maine are a serious problem, but you can reduce the risks.