May 23, 2007
Contact: Jerry Carey
Phone: (856) 566-6171
Physician Warns that Summer is Tick Season, Too
STRATFORD — The incidence of Lyme disease in New Jersey has increased significantly in recent years and the recent rains followed by the warmer weather of approaching summer days create an ideal environment for the ticks that carry the disease warns Dr. Carman Ciervo, the chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine.
“Lyme disease is one of the most widely reported infectious diseases in the state and the summer months are when we’re most likely to see this infection,” Dr. Ciervo said. “The long days and warm weather beckons us into our yards, parks and wooded areas that are the very environments where this year’s generation of ticks is emerging.”
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that are spread by the bite of infected ticks, usually black-legged or deer ticks. The ticks ingest the bacteria when feeding upon infected animals such as birds, mice, chipmunks, raccoons and deer, and then transmit it to the next animal they bite. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the reported cases of Lyme disease in New Jersey have increased in each of the past four years, reaching an all-time high of 3,363 cases in 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
“While we can treat Lyme disease successfully, the best strategies against it are awareness and prevention,” Dr. Ciervo said. “Ticks lurk in woodlands, in leaf litter and among the brush, trees and dense ground cover of landscaped areas. If you are going to be in contact with these areas, wear light-colored clothes and tuck your pants into your socks. Consider using an insect repellent containing DEET, but only after reading the warning labels carefully.”
Dr. Ciervo also suggests taking the following precautions:
· Carefully examine yourself and your children after being in an area that ticks might inhabit. Pay particular attention to the groin, armpits and the backs of legs and arms.
· When showering, use a washcloth to dislodge any loose ticks as they generally spend several hours on the host body before attaching themselves.
· If you find a tick, grasp it firmly (preferably with tweezers) as close to the skin as possible and apply firm, backward pressure to pull it out.
“If bitten, keep an eye out for Lyme disease’s telltale, ‘bulls-eye’ rash - a pale center surrounded by a bright red rim - that could indicate an infection,” Dr. Ciervo warned. “If you develop other symptoms, such as fatigue, headache, stiff neck, fever and muscle and joint pain, contact your physician immediately.”
To request an interview with Dr. Ciervo, please contact Jerry Carey, UMDNJ News Service, at (856) 566-6171 or (973) 972?5000.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.