On our planet, there are several insects potentially dangerous for humans and animals. Some species of invertebrates can serve as the vectors of viruses and bacteria which cause different diseases. Among such vectors, there are mosquitoes, ticks, flies, flea, bed bugs, and lice.
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The diseases they may cause are malaria, typhus, plague, encephalitis, yellow fever and Lyme disease among others. Over time, as medicine and hygiene norms developed, the rates of the diseases transmitted by insects minimized. This paper is focused on the exploration of Lyme disease and its vector the black-legged tick.
The black-legged tick is also known as a deer tick. Its scientific Latin name is Ixodes scapularis. Black-legged tick inhabits the territories of Eastern USA, from Florida to Maine (Halperin 1). Another species of this insect called I. pacificus or Western black-legged tick inhabits Western part of North America.
One more species names I. persulcatus lives in Asia and is also known as taiga tick. Both adult and nymphal forms of black-legged ticks are frequently infected with Borrelia burgdorferi the agent of Lyme disease. Ten to thirty percent of nymphs may be the carriers of the disease, among the adult ticks the rates are higher, twenty to seventy percent may be dangerous. Ticks are spread widely, for example, I. pacificus covers the Western territories of North America from Canadian province British Columbia to Mexico (Castro and Wright 140).
Black-legged tick carries the bacteria that are the agents of Lyme disease. This way, when a tick bites a human or an animal, the disease gets passed. The bacteria do not infect their carriers, but when a carrier bites, it becomes the bridge for the disease transmission. Ticks are multi-year insects and can infect more than one human or animals through their life cycle. Ticks may live in the forest area or just in tall grass in someone’s back yard.
Having unprotected skin on one’s legs or arms and walking in the areas inhabited with ticks is the way to get infected. Ticks attach themselves to the victims’ skin and may stay like that for a long while consuming blood. When a tick bites special secretion is produced, this way a human does not feel and pain or itch so the insect and feed without obstacles. Besides, nymphs of a black-legged tick are rather small, so often they attack themselves to humans unnoticed.
The bacteria is thin and has a form of a spiral; this is why it is called a spirochete (Donnelly 14). A bite of an infected tick sends the spirochete into the blood system of humans or animals, through the blood stream, the bacteria travels to the nervous system and joints. At the initial stages of the disease, most of the infected people do not experience any symptoms. This is why the disease is easy to miss or overlook.
In the regions where deep ticks live, people are to be especially careful about getting bitten. Besides, since ticks need places to hide, the population of deer tick inhabited territories such as East of the USA and West of North America needs to keep the grass in their yards and lawns very short, always wear thick clothes when contacting with tall grass, stacks of wood or other locations where ticks may hide.
It is very important to weal long sleeve shirts and full-length pants since these are the easiest ways to protect one’s skin from parasites. The population of tick inhabited areas are aware of the tendency there and knows how to locate and remove ticks safely and which symptoms and sins to look for after getting bitten.
One of the most typical first symptoms of an infected tick bite is rash around the bitten area. Such rash is difficult to miss because it has a shape of an eye, a red center is surrounded with a ring of rash; this is called bull’s-eye rash. This symptom does not appear every time an infected tick bites.
Only thirty percent of the victims get the rash. The symptoms may show up several days or even a month after the bite. Other typical Lyme disease symptoms resemble flu; they are headaches, tiredness, fever, and sore muscles. If the treatment is not received in time, the patient may develop issues with spinal cord, heart, and brain as well as severe arthritis.
To treat Lyme disease, doctors prescribe a course of antibiotics that may last two to three weeks. The substances that cure the spreading infection and stop the development of Lyme disease are called doxycycline and amoxicillin, these are antibiotics that are to be taken orally on a regular basis for a certain period of time, they are effective in nearly ninety percent of cases (Lyme Disease: New Insights for the Healthcare Professional: 2013 Edition: ScholarlyBrief 66).
To prevent infectious tick bites people living in dangerous areas are recommended to use insect repellents, treat their clothes with permethrin, take showers as soon as they come home after working outside, throw their clothes into dryers with high heat for one hour to kill the ticks that may still be there.
Castro, Martin B. and Stan A. Wright. “Vertebrate hosts of Ixodes pacificus (Acari: Ixodidae) in California.” Journal of Vector Ecology 32.1 (2007): 140-149. Print.
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Donnelly, Karen. Everything You Need to Know about Lyme Disease. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2000. Print.
Halperin, John J. Lyme Disease: An Evidence-Based Approach. Wallingford: CABI, 2011. Print.
Lyme Disease: New Insights for the Healthcare Professional: 2013 Edition: ScholarlyBrief. Atlanta: ScholarlyEditions, 2013. Print.