HEALTH & INSPECTION SERVICES
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia
Burgdorferi that is spread by deer ticks in the eastern United States
and the western blacklegged tick in the western United States. Animals
and people can be infected by this disease. This web page is designed
for prevention purposes only. For further information about the signs
and symptoms of Lyme disease, please refer to the Massachusetts Department
of Public Health Lyme disease website or
the Center for Disease Control
The deer tick gets its name because of the fact that most deer ticks feed
on deer before mating. The disease is maintained in nature by animals.
The young ticks (called larvae) become infected by biting an infected
animal, such as the white-footed mouse. The infected deer tick can then
pass the infection along to its next host. The nymph stage is the most
infectious stage of the tick because they are so small and may go unrecognized
when attached to humans and animals. Not all ticks are infected with Lyme
Signs and Symptoms:
- A rash at the site of the tick bite. The rash often starts as a small
red area then expands, sometimes with a clearing in the center so it
looks like a donut or a bullseye. (However, the rash may not always
appear like this).
- Flu-like symptoms
- Stiff neck
- Sore, aching muscles and joints
- Fatigue and swollen glands
- For more signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease, please refer to:
Homeowner Tips for Property Management:
The following information will reduce the tick population in your
- Keep your property clean and clear of leaf litter and overgrowth of
- Prune bushes to let in more sunlight - ticks don't like sunlight,
they prefer shade.
- Move woodpiles to the outskirts of your yard and off the ground. Woodpiles
may harbor mice or other infected animals.
- Keep lawns mowed and grass short.
- Clean gardens of foliage that may provide shelter for small animals.
- Stonewalls are potential shelters of small animals and ticks.
- Birdfeeders attract birds and mice that may carry ticks, so move the
birdfeeders away from the house.
- Construct fences to detour deer and other wildlife from entering your
- Check your pets when they enter the house for ticks.
- Consult professional insecticide companies for various chemicals that
may be applied to yards to control the tick population.
- Avoid tick-infested areas.
- Walk in the center of trails.
- Avoid tall grass, woods or dunes where ticks like to congregate.
- Wear light-colored clothing. Tuck your pants into socks and your shirt into
pants so the ticks can't crawl up underneath your clothing. This will
increase your chances of spotting and removing ticks before
- Use insect repellant that contains DEET (N-diethyl-meta-toluamide).
Use repellants with no more than 15% Deet on children and no more than
35% Deet on adults. Never use insect repellant on infants under one
year of age. Use insect repellants cautiously. Never apply insect repellant
to childrens hands or face. Remember to wash repellant off before
retiring to bed.
- Do a Daily Tick Check. Their favorite places to hide are the warm
moist areas of the body such as the groin, armpits, behind the knees,
hairline and in or behind the ears. Remember, the sooner the tick is
removed, the less likely the chance of contracting Lyme disease. If you
find a tick on you, remove it as soon as possible using the following
techniques listed below.
Proper Tick Removal:
- Use fine-point tweezers and grasp the tick at the place of attachment
as close to the skin as possible.
- Gently pull the tick straight out.
- Place the tick in a small container with a few blades of grass. Do
not throw the tick away. The doctor will need to know the type of tick
to determine whether treatment is warranted. The ticks can be identified
at local hospital laboratories.
- Note the date and location of the tick bite and call your doctor.
- Wash your hands and disinfect the area.
- Watch for signs and symptoms of tick-borne diseases.
- Never remove a tick with your bare hands.
- Do not crush, burn or smother the tick because these methods may increase
the probability of the tick transmitting Lyme disease.
- Teach children to seek adult help when removing a tick.