According to CDC and other public health literature, Lyme disease is caused by a spirochetal bacteria called borrelia bugdorferi, and the most common carrier is the black-legged deer tick, or ixodes scapularis. The same bug can also carry other infections.

Among other facts on the "Did you know?" list:

Pregnant women with Lyme disease can pass it on to their unborn children.

Because chronic Lyme disease evades the immune system, it is only detectable in its earliest stages, when it is also most treatable with antibiotic therapy. In later stages, it gets more complicated and may require years of treatment.

Nashoba Publishing managing editor Kate King had her own experience with a tick.

"I had a spot on the back of my neck that itched," King said. "The first time I scratched it, I felt something very small and pulled it away, not looking at it, and never thinking about a tick.

"That night, the area was red and had grown to about an inch in diameter," King said. "I put some anti-itch medicine on it. But the next morning, I had the telltale bull's-eye and realized it was likely a tick bite.

"My doctor took me right away. She said I likely had Lyme and she started me on antibiotics. The next day, I had a red line reaching from the bite around to the front of my neck. I went back to the doctor and she gave me a stronger antibiotic. I was knocked off my feet for a couple of days.


"While I was diagnosed with Lyme disease," King said, "that was more than two years ago and I've had no adverse symptoms. I was fortunate, both to have symptoms that alerted me to the problem right away and to have a doctor who knew how to treat it."

Local action

To raise awareness and reduce Lyme disease risks via tick contact, the Pepperell Conservation Commission recently posted signs in public places that show a graphic portrait of the culprit: an eight-legged deer tick.

Bullets provide practical advice:

* Wear repellent

* Check for ticks daily

* Shower soon after being outdoors

* Call your doctor if you get a fever or rash

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