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May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month in Maine! Make sure you're taking precautions against ticks!

Individuals and families spending more time outdoors, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, should take steps to limit their exposure to ticks.

MAINE, USA — The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) urges Maine people to take precautions against ticks during May, which is Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

The Maine CDC received a record 2,079 Lyme disease case reports from health providers in 2019. This is the highest number of cases ever reported in the state and, according to Maine CDC, the number may have even risen after January 16, 2020 (the date they released that number) as providers were still making additional case reports.

This year’s Lyme Disease Awareness Month theme is “Tick Tock,” which is aimed at reminding Mainers to slow down and take time to practice tick and tickborne disease prevention. 

Deer ticks, which can carry the germs that cause tickborne diseases such as Lyme, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis, are most commonly found in wooded, leafy, and shrubby areas, meaning most Mainers are at risk every day. Individuals and families spending more time outdoors, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, should take steps to limit their exposure to ticks.

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Ticks are already active in Maine. The Maine CDC encourages following four strategies help to prevent exposure to ticks and the diseases they carry:

  • Use caution in areas where ticks may be found.
  • Use an EPA-approved repellent such as: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Wear light-colored clothing that covers the arms and legs and tuck pants into socks.
  • Perform tick checks daily and after any outdoor activity.

Health care providers reported at least 2,150 confirmed and probable Lyme disease cases to Maine CDC in 2019. The most commonly reported symptom was an erythema migrans or “bullseye” rash. Other common symptoms include arthritis, fatigue, chills, fever, headache, and swollen lymph nodes.

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The Maine CDC also provides a number of resources to help educate Mainers on ticks and tickborne diseases. Some of these include:

  • Educational Videos: The Maine CDC has short videos on multiple tickborne disease topics. These include tick identification, how to perform a tick check, tickborne diseases, repellents, and how to choose a residential pesticide applicator. All videos can be viewed through the Maine CDC’s YouTube Channel at: www.youtube.com/MainePublicHealth.
  • Traditional and Social Media Messaging: Check out the Maine CDC’s Facebook (www.facebook.com/MaineCDC) and Twitter (twitter.com/MEPublicHealth) profiles. We will post information about ticks and tickborne diseases throughout the month. Find informational materials on the Maine CDC website (www.maine.gov/lyme/month).
  • Virtual Education: With in-person instruction suspended for the 2019-2020 school year, the Maine CDC’s 3rd through 8th grade tick education is now virtual. Video presentations, games, and activity books are available at: www.maine.gov/dhhs/schoolcurricula.

For more information, visit www.maine.gov/lyme.

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