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Lyme Disease in MadisonLyme disease is one of the most common diseases in Connecticut with numerous cases every year in Madison alone. It is spread by deer ticks, and while it is most common in warm weather, the ticks can be active during warmer days at any time of year. Symptoms can vary greatly and so diagnosis, in the absence of a blood test, can be difficult. As a rule of thumb, Lyme disease should be considered with the onset of flu-like symptoms at any time of year. Antibiotic treatment in the early stages of the disease is usually effective but both symptoms and treatment become much more problematic if the disease is allowed to progress to later stages. Lyme disease can be debilitating if not treated early.
To submit an engorged deer tick for testing, residents may bring the tick to the Madison Health Department and fill out the submission form. After an initial confirmation that the tick is a deer tick, it will be forwarded to the CAES (The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station) for definitive identification and for the presence of the Lyme disease bacterium. Test results will be emailed directly to the resident in approximately 2-3 weeks.
Few Facts About Lyme Disease
- Not all ticks carry Lyme Disease. Ticks come in roughly two varieties. The larger, called the dog tick is slightly larger than a newsprint letter "o" and cannot carry the disease. The smaller deer tick (about the size of a pin head) can, but does not necessarily carry Lyme Disease. About 20-25% of the deer ticks in Madison carry the bacteria for Lyme Disease.
- To transmit Lyme Disease an infected deer tick needs to be imbedded in a host for about 24 hours.
- A characteristic "bulls-eye" skin rash often precedes the onset of flu-like symptoms and is a good indicator of the imminent onset of the disease. But the rash is not always present so it's absence should not be taken as a sign that the disease is not present.
- You may never see the tick that infected you.
- You can get Lyme disease more than once. This writer has been infected four times (and never saw the ticks that caused the disease).
- Testing individual ticks for infection is not a good diagnostic indicator. A blood test is faster and more definitive because tick testing says nothing about whether the host person has the disease or not.
- There was an approved vaccine for the prevention of Lyme Disease, but it has been withdrawn from the market.