Maine CDC Press Release

October 27, 2010

Research Institute Seeks Ticks for Tracking Lyme disease

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Stephen Sears, MD, MPH
(207) 287-5183

AUGUSTA - Maine Medical Center Research Institute (MMCRI), in partnership with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), is expanding its efforts in northern and western Maine to track the spread of the ticks that may carry Lyme disease.

“We encourage submission of ticks from northern and western Maine to better map the location of deer ticks and to learn more about the spread of Lyme disease.” said Dr. Stephen Sears, State Epidemiologist with Maine CDC. “We need to gather more information from Aroostook, Piscataquis, Penobscot, Somerset, Franklin and Oxford counties.”

MMCRI Vector-borne Disease Laboratory tracks the spread of deer ticks throughout the state. It has been doing so for two decades, creating maps of how the disease is spreading. “Residents, veterinarians, and physicians who find ticks should send them to MMCRI for identification,” said Dr. Peter Rand of the Vector-borne Disease Laboratory. “The information gained through this program can help identify new areas of the state that may be at increased risk of Lyme disease.”

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is carried by the deer tick. Cases increase each year and occur in all 16 Maine counties. Although the majority of Lyme disease cases occur in the summer, the adult deer ticks are prevalent in the fall, so the risk remains present. The deer tick is the only tick in Maine that can transmit the Lyme bacterium. Lyme disease, named after the town in Connecticut where it first appeared, brings painful, often debilitating symptoms, ranging from headaches to joint pain and fatigue.

To submit ticks for identification: 1) Capture the tick in a small, water-tight and crush-proof bottle with rubbing alcohol, and 2) send the tick to the address below along with your name, address, phone number, date and town the tick was found.

Vector-borne Disease Laboratory
Maine Medical Center Research Institute
75 John Roberts Road, Suite 9B
South Portland, ME 04106

Instructions and a submission form can be downloaded from MMCRI’s website at http://www.mmcri.org/lyme .

Dr. Sears reminds said that Lyme disease remains preventable. Maine CDC recommends following the “No Ticks 4 ME” approach: Wear protective clothing; use insect repellent; perform daily tick checks; and use caution in places where ticks can be found.