Virginia Tech Expert Dispels Myths about Lyme Disease and Offers


Virginia Tech Lyme Disease Research Press Release:

Lyme illness is now essentially the most reported vector-borne illness within the United States. It is an an infection transmitted by the chew of a tick contaminated with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report displaying that ailments from biting bugs, ticks, and mosquitoes within the U.S. have tripled since 2004.

Brandon Jutras, a Lyme illness researcher within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, says, “Warming temperatures are playing an important role in this increase. Ticks not readily killed due to warmer winters, are coming out earlier in the season and spreading to more northern areas. Another factor likely playing a role in the increase is public and physician awareness.”

There are many misconceptions about ticks and Lyme illness, and Jutras, an assistant professor within the Department of Biochemistry and affiliated school of the Fralin Life Science Institute, affords a number of quotes and insights on this subject. 

MYTH: All ticks transmit Lyme illness.

“Four main species of ticks are able to transmitting the micro organism that causes Lyme illness, solely one in all which is present in our space: the blacklegged, or deer tick, Ixodes scapularis. It spreads the illness within the northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, and North-Central United States. The western blacklegged tick, Ixodes pacificus, is liable for transmitting the illness on the Pacific Coast, and in Europe and Asia,  Ixodes Ricinus and Ixodes persulcatus ticks act as vectors of Lyme illness. That stated, Virginia is house to some different species of ticks that transmit different ailments.”

“It can be vital to keep in mind that simply since you are bitten by a tick, doesn’t imply the tick is carrying the micro organism that causes Lyme illness. Also, the length of tick attachment, or feeding time, is vital. B. burgdorferi lives within the intestine of the tick, however is transmitted via the saliva.  Once the tick bites, the micro organism have a moderately lengthy journey, which may take wherever from 12 to 72 hours to be transmitted, so immediate elimination is essential.”

MYTH: Burning or salting ticks is the one strategy to take away them.

“NO! This can actually make matters worse. The only appropriate way to remove a tick is to get as close to your skin as possible with fine tweezers and pull. Any other method, including grabbing the tick by the body can actually accelerate the transmission process, increasing the chances of infection. Commercially available tick removers are also available and are effective.”

MYTH: All ticks actively seek for hosts.

“Many ticks don’t show typical host-seeking habits — that’s to say, they don’t chase you want mosquitoes. Virtually all blood-feeding arthropods sense their hosts by the carbon dioxide they emit when respiratory. As a consequence, they’ll find and actively hunt down their host. Unlike some tick species which can be aggressive host seekers just like the Lone Star tick, the Ixodes ticks that transmit Lyme illness are completely different in that they’re extra passive–they sit and wait so that you can brush by. That’s why it’s vital to test your self usually when doing any out of doors actions like gardening, climbing, or any exercise that includes longer grass close to wooded areas and leaf litter.”

MYTH: I’d know if I had been bitten by a tick.

“This is frequent assumption, however not essentially true. During feeding, ticks are slowly injecting a really complicated combination of salivary parts, just a few of which act to numb the world. So, in contrast to a mosquito, most individuals don’t really feel a tick feeding, until you occur to be allergic to one of many salivary parts. The different subject is their dimension. The second stage, nymph, is about the dimensions of a pencil tip. You usually should really feel for them as a result of some life phases aren’t apparent. Finally, Ixodes ticks are typically just a little choosy as to the place they really feed. They appear to take pleasure in heat, moist areas just like the groin, again of the knee, or armpit, which aren’t apparent or simple locations to test often.”

MYTH: Everyone with Lyme illness will get a telltale bull’s eye rash.

“While the historical past of Ixodes tick chew adopted by presentation of a bull’s eye rash, Erythema migrans,  is a transparent indication of Lyme, not everybody who contracts the illness will develop this rash. The rash is regarded as an immune response to the micro organism as they start shifting all through the physique. But, immune responses can range. As a consequence, it’s estimated that 20 to 30 p.c of people that purchase Lyme illness DO NOT get the standard rash.”

MYTH: If the check is adverse, you don’t have Lyme illness.

“If you have symptoms, you should go to a physician right away. The best diagnostic for Lyme disease is a blood test which measures a patient’s serum for specific antibodies produced in response to certain bacterial products. This type of response can take 1-2 weeks to detect since the body must develop sufficient amounts of antibody, or, titer, to allow for faithful detection. So, if you were bitten in an area where the tick is prevalent and you continue to have symptoms of Lyme disease, it is often worth a second trip to see your physician if you did not have detectable titers immediately.”

Tips for Prevention

“Wear light-colored clothing while enjoying the outdoors and treat these clothes with DEET, or N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, containing bug spray. This does work well at repelling ticks, and light colored clothing will allow you to spot the ticks more easily. When in high risk areas check yourself often, initial tick contact almost always occurs below your thigh.”

“If you’ve been bitten, don’t panic, promptly and carefully remove the tick and save it. The tick can be useful in possible future diagnostic efforts.”

“On hikes, or in my car glove box, I carry a fine-tipped pair of tweezers and a small container, the size of a pill bottle, with over the counter rubbing alcohol, or, 70 percent ethanol. Use the tweezers to remove the tick, and drop it into the container with alcohol to kill and preserve the tick should testing be required in the future.”

“Our furry friends are wonderful companions, but they are tick magnets! Commercial tick treatments often prevent attachment, and will usually kill the ticks if they do start feeding, but they do not prevent contact. What happens? Often the ticks are brought inside from the outdoors by our pets and they are then able to bite us. So, check your pets often. It is not only good practice because the commercial treatments work well, but are not 100 percent effective, and it can help you and your family stay safe.”

“Don’t skip the dryer. Spring and summer weather encourages many people to hang their clothes to dry. However, ticks survive the washer and can remain on clean clothes. They do not, however, survive the dryer! If you have returned from a high risk activity, like hiking or camping, be sure to use the dryer on all articles of clothing.” 

About Jutras

Brandon Jutras is an assistant professor of biochemistry within the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. His analysis examines ticks and Borrelia burgdorferi, the spirochetal bacterium that causes Lyme illness. During his 10+ years of learning Lyme illness, he has printed greater than 15 peer-reviewed articles in most of the analysis group’s high journals. His lab is at the moment utilizing molecular and mobile strategies to develop new diagnostic instruments and therapies for the remedy of Lyme illness along with researching Lyme arthritis within the late phases of the illness. 


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