MAINE, USA — Last week was Tick Week at NEWS CENTER Maine. All week long we explored how scientists, doctors, and biologists are using new breakthroughs to protect people and our pets from ticks and the diseases they carry.
Here are all of our Tick Week stories in one place, so you can share all of the stories with your friends and family with a single link.
For more than a decade, cases of Lyme disease have risen nearly every year in Maine. Half a million people could get Lyme this year across the U.S., according to predictive data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those numbers are only expected to grow, as climate change continues to create conditions that allow ticks to expand into the north.
There is hope on the horizon about potentially preventing Lyme disease with a vaccine. Clinical trials will soon get underway in Maine at Northern Light Health system in Brewer.
The shot delivers a single anti-Lyme antibody directly into a patient's bloodstream versus a vaccine that triggers the immune system to make antibodies to fight disease. That antibody circulating in the blood kills the Lyme-causing bacteria inside an attached deer tick.
"It's neutralized while still in the tick before it gets transmitted to you," Dr. Mark Klempner, a professor of medicine and a former executive vice-chancellor of MassBiologics, said.
There's a newly discovered bacteria spread by deer ticks called Borrelia miyamotoi. According to the CDC, it can cause relapsing fevers. It is related to Borrelia burgdorferi, the pathogen that causes Lyme disease, which is also transmitted by deer ticks.
Researchers say so far only a small percentage of deer ticks in Maine are carrying the pathogen. But a Limington mother blames the bacteria for a rare disorder that attacks the brain in her 7-year-old daughter.
Unlike deer ticks, winter ticks don't carry diseases, but survive on the blood of animals and are commonly found on moose.
Last winter, nearly 90 percent of the moose calves tracked by biologists didn't survive their first year, and experts say winter ticks are the reason.
Winter ticks killed the largest percentage of moose calves this year since the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife started its moose surveys more than eight years ago.
Mainers can't forget that their pets are at risk too. Some veterinarians said so far it's been a bad season for dogs, with a marked increase in tick-borne diseases.
Experts said one of the first signs a dog may have Lyme disease is if your pet appears tired. That may lead to other symptoms and can go downhill if not detected. That's why it's so important to do tick checks and have your pet on a tick preventative all year round.
"We are seeing a least a positive every day, sometimes two or three positives a day on our blood work," Lucas said.