Deer Ticks And Lyme Disease – New Insights

Deer Ticks And Lyme Disease – New Insights
March 30, 2024 Sabine Schoenberg
deer ticks, Lyme Disease

A new study presents important new insights on deer ticks and Lyme disease.  Humans, as well as furry friends, are well advised to heed these insights when moving around gardens and landscapes. Ticks are found in greater densities in certain areas.

Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia Burgdorferi, has been a subject of concern for decades. Its elusive nature and potential long-term health implications are significant. Lyme disease first appeared in areas around Old Lyme CT in 1975 – thus the name, Lyme disease.

Lyme disease causes various, and sometimes serious joint diseases as well as neurological ailments in people. To this day, medical sources report that the area around Lyme CT has approx. 476,000 cases annually. (Greenwich Time Link)

Understanding Lyme Disease

It’s been well known that transmission of Lyme disease occurs through the bite of infected black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks. These ticks are commonly found in wooded areas, tall grasses, and even in gardens with dense vegetation. When an infected tick latches onto a human host and feeds on its blood, it can transmit the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease.

The early symptoms of Lyme disease often resemble those of the flu, including fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. However, one of the hallmark signs is the appearance of a red rash that resembles a bullseye around the site of the tick bite. If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to more severe symptoms affecting the joints, heart, and nervous system.

Gardeners And Lyme Disease

There has been a general assumption that leaf piles and brush, are the most tick-infested areas. A just-released 3-year study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in conjunction with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in the greater Old Lyme, CT area finds this is not the case. According to this new study, the highest tick densities are at the edge of landscaped areas and within 3 feet +/- of stonewalls. Specifically, the study finds:

  1. “three times as dense along stone walls compared with areas without walls”, and
  2. “Ticks were most abundant in the meter-wide strip where maintained yard met woods. 

The cause: The study researchers add that carriers like white-tailed deer and white-footed mice, hosts to the Lime-causing ticks frequent these areas, and mice also live and breed in stone walls.

Preventing Lyme Disease In The Garden

Lyme disease is a real danger for gardeners. A new study presents important new insights on deer ticks and Lyme disease. Based on the new findings gardeners should be particularly careful attending to their garden beds near stonewalls and at the edge of their landscaped property. Here are some essential precautions:

  • Protective Clothing: When gardening in areas where ticks are prevalent, wear long sleeves, pants tucked into socks, and closed-toe shoes. This creates a physical barrier that makes it more difficult for ticks to reach your skin.
  • Tick Repellents: Apply insect repellents containing DEET or permethrin to exposed skin and clothing. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product label carefully.
  • Tick Checks: Perform thorough tick checks on yourself and your clothing after spending time in the garden or any outdoor areas where ticks may reside. Pay close attention to areas such as the scalp, armpits, groin, and behind the knees.

New Lyme Findings – Your Pets’ Health

Veterinarians and The CDC ( Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) advise treating your dogs and cats with tick preventatives such as Frontline and the tripple protection, Simparica Trio after checking them regularly for ticks. The ticks are just as dangerous to pets as they are to humans. Fur can make it difficult to detect ticks, even the larger deer ticks in pets.

The new findings that way more ticks are found near stonewalls and at the edge of landscaped areas is important information for all pet owners.  Are you walking your dog(s), for example? Does your dog love to walk near stonewalls? Caution! The new study points out that this area has a far greater tick population.

Best Protection Against Lyme Disease

Do you let your dog(s) run freely on your property? Do you move around your property gardening? While all of the above precautions are essential, you might want to consider installing perimeter deer fencing.  Only a high and strong barrier will keep away pesty deer, the biggest carriers of ticks, thus the name deer ticks. While mice are known carriers deer are of most concern. Keeping deer off your property provides a double benefit – way lower exposure to deer ticks / Lyme disease and gardening without pesty deer eating it all to shreds!