A female Dermacentor variabilis, or American dog tick. Image from the CDC/DVBID/Gary Maupin, courtesy Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
By Emily Bingham | [email protected]
Lyme-disease carrying ticks are on the rise in Michigan, which is causing alarm for plenty of folks as they gear up for outdoor summer adventures.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), there were 221 human cases of Lyme disease reported in 2016. By comparison, there were fewer than 20 reported cases of Lyme in the year 2000; Michigan occurrences of the disease have risen steadily over the past decade or so, according to a study published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases.
Concerned about Lyme? Curious how to prevent tick bites, or what to do if you find a tick actually attached to your skin? Read on for more.
Ticks on the rise
Submitted by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
What exactly is Lyme and how is it transmitted?
Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, and in Michigan it is transmitted to humans by black-legged ticks, which are also sometimes known as deer ticks.
Pictured: A male and female Lone Star tick. Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service
How do I kill the tick once it’s been removed?
Don’t try to burn off a tick with the end of a spent match, or crush it with your fingers. The CDC says that once you remove the tick with tweezers, you can kill it by submersing it in alcohol or placing it in a plastic bag. If you don’t want to save it for testing (see next slide), you can flush it down the toilet.
MLive file photo
If you get bitten, should you get the tick tested for Lyme?
Not necessarily. Just because the test comes back positive doesn’t mean you contracted Lyme; conversely, a negative result for that particular tick doesn’t mean another tick with Lyme might have bitten you. It’s also possible that you might develop symptoms of a tick-borne illness before the testing results come back. For “peace of mind,” the CDC recommends saving the tick in a small container to have it tested later, if necessary.