As people spend more time in nature this spring, state health officials urge precautions to stay safe from ticks and the diseases they can transmit -- including Lyme disease.
Ticks catch a ride on clothing when people walk through wooded or brushy areas.Taryn Stevens, a vector-borne infectious disease epidemiologist with the Indiana State Department of Health, urges people wear long pants with socks and use bug repellent.
“Most humans are infected with Lyme disease through the bites of the immature ticks – which are called nymphs," Stevens says, "and these nymphs are most active in the spring and summer months.”
Indiana had 153 confirmed or probable Lyme disease cases in 2016, and while infection can happen anywhere in the state, Stevens says most happen north of Indianapolis.
“Cases are the most concentrated in the northwest corner of the state. St. Joseph, La Porte, Porter and Lake counties have the highest incidence,” she says.
Stevens says a rash appears at the tick bite site in 70 to 80 percent of infections, and you may feel like you’ve got the flu. Stevens advises people seek medical attention in those cases.
“Fever, chills, headache, fatigue and that characteristic rash – which is called the erythema migrans rash – or commonly referred to as the bulls-eye rash," she says.
The threat of Lyme disease increases now through July in Indiana. Stevens says nymph – or baby deer ticks are so small that you might not even realize you’ve been bitten.