Lyme Disease & Babesiosis: Dangerous Tick Borne Diseases

After a walk in the woods, check for ticks before getting in the car!

If you spend any amount of time outdoors on the North Shore, you should be aware of ticks, where they live, how they feed and what to do if you find a tick on your body or biting into your skin. Ticks are arachnids that are closely related to spiders. They feed by attaching themselves to animals and sucking blood. Ticks on the North Shore primarily transmit two dangerous infections - Lyme Disease and Babesiosis (a blood parasite commonly confused with malaria).

Ticks live in the woods and in grassy fields, but they can also survive in and around your home.  They are capable of surviving in varied environments as long as their main source of food - blood - is available. In the world of disease control, ticks are known as 'vectors' - an entity that transmits disease from one host to the next through their behavior.  Ticks, like mosquitos, transmit disease through feeding.

Deer tick life stages and relative sizes - adult, nymph, and larva

Lyme Disease

The most dangerous disease transmitted by ticks on the North Shore is Lyme Disease.  Infected deer ticks bite humans and transmit the disease while feeding.  Symptoms appear in the form of fatigue, fever, headache, muscle & joint aches, swollen lymph nodesErythyma migransas rash as it would appear in a Lyme Disease infection. and a bulls-eye shaped rash called erythema migrans. Lyme disease is a serious condition that can cause permanent bodily harm if left untreated.  Infection can spread to joints, the nervous system and the heart.

Infection can only be verified by a blood test. While clinical diagnosis is useful, the only way to be 100% sure that you've been infected is through a blood test. If caught early, a treatment of antibiotics usually results in complete recovery. Drugs commonly used to treat Lyme Disease include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil. People with certain neurological or cardiac illness may require more intense intravenous treatment with drugs such as ceftriaxone or penicillin.

Babesiosis

Babesiosis is a parasitic infection that attacks red blood cells. Its passed primarily by younger ticks in their nymphal stage of growth.  These ticks are hard to see and are about the size of a poppy seed. Babesia infection ranges in severity from asymptomatic (no symptoms) to life-threatening. Symptoms are flu-like, and include chill, fever, headache, sweats, body aches, fatigue nausea and loss of appetite. Babesiosis can cause a type of anemia called hemolytic anemia, which can result in jaundice and dark urine.  Infection can also cause low or unstable blood pressure, low platelet count, blood clots and bleeding, and malfunction of vital organs (heart, liver, lungs or kidneys) resulting in death.

Symptoms should be a clear signal for a blood test where samples are examined for the presence of the parasite in the actual blood cell.  Any diagnostics should be confirmed by a reference laboratory because Babesia can be confused with similar diseases like malaria. 

Most people who show no symptoms probably won't require treatment, but those who do respond well to combined drug therapies that last 7 - 10 days. Treatment combinations are usually atovaquone & azithromycin, or clindamycin & quinine for severe cases.  Additional treatment may be required to treat the symptoms of infection and may include blood transfusions, mechanical ventilation, and dialysis.

Prevention

Like Poison Ivy, the best prevention of tick-borne disease is avoiding contact. This can be hard especially in the summer when we all spend more time out doors - at the beach, in the woods, out in the yard or at the park. There are strategies that can reduce your chances of exposure while you still enjoy the outdoors:

  • Walk in the center of trails
  • Wear shorts with long sleeves and pants when in the woods.
  • Use a bug spray with DEET on exposed skin.
  • Use a bug spray with permethrin on clothing, shoes and out door equipment.
  • Inspect yourself, your kids and your gear.
    • Try to do this on site before entering your vehicle.
      • A tick can live in a car if it has people to feed on.
    • Shower ASAP - within two hours is best practice.
    • Conduct a full-body tick check using mirrors to view all parts after being in a tick infested habitat.
    • Checking children should be thorough:
      • most importantly hair
      • under arms
      • in and around ears and nostrils
      • inside the belly button
      • behind knees
      • between legs
      • around waistband
    • Examine gear and pets
      • Ticks can hitch a ride into your house on your dog, in your tent or on your backback and bite somebody when they're home!
      • Clothes should be laundered and dried in a drier to kill any remaining ticks.

Removing a Tick

If you find a tick crawling on your body simply remove the tick and destroy it.  A shot glass of listerine will do the trick - just drop it in. If a tick has burrowed in to your skin, you should remove it immediatley with tweezers:

  • Use fine tipped tweezers
  • Grasp the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible
  • Pull upward with steady pressure until the tick releases.
    • Twisting and erratic movement will cause the head or mouth parts of the tick to break of and become embedded in your skin.
      • Embedded tick parts should be removed with tweezers and the wound should be cleaned with Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Clean the bite area, your hands and your tweezers with alcohol, or plenty of soap and hot water.
  • Follow Up and Be Vigilant!
    • Make a note in your calendar of your tick bite, and where you may have picked up the tick.
    • If you develop symptoms for Lyme Disease or Babesiosis seek treatment immediately from a qualified health care provider.

DO NOT follow folk remedies for tick removal like using petroleum jelly or nail polish to smother the tick, or using a cigarette or lit match to burn the tick off.  You want to remove the whole, live tick as soon as possible.

Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals.  The information in this article is the result of research from the National Institutes of Health, the CDC and the WHO. When in doubt consult a qualified health care provider. Tick-borne diseases are serious medical conditions that are fatal under some circumstances if left untreated.  If you develop symptons described above, seek professional medical help.

Larcom Theater, Larcom Theatre - Beverly MA

Crescent Farm Corn Maze

Crescent Farm corn maze in Haverhill Massachusetts
Imagine the biggest puzzle you’ve ever seen. Now imagine a day in the sunshine with your friends or family. Now add an adventure that takes teamwork and memory skills. All these things and more can be found at Crescent Farms Corn Maze. Crescent Farm Corn Maze trails cut into 9 acres of corn. Inside...

Sculpture at Maudslay

Artists will install their sculptures at Maudslay State Park for public viewing!
Maudslay State Park has a strong connection to the arts, and one of the highlights of the year is Sculpture at Maudslay! The annual show will be themed 'Passage' - an apprpropriate theme for our 21st. This unique exhibition brings together artists from many walks of life to create site-specific...

Hike and Seek at Stevens Coolidge Estate

Come enjoy enjoy a self-guided scavenger hunt at the Trustees of Reservations Stevens-Coolidge Place.
Have you ever had a moment in the woods that felt a little bit mystical? It could be a feeling of connectedness or a sighting of something unusual, like the mini beasts that make the forest their home. The Trustees wants to bring you closer to these fantastical elements of the forest with this self...
9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Corn MAiZE and Haunted Attractions at Connors Farm - Danvers

Corn MAiZE, Maze and Haunted Attractions at Connors Farm - Danvers, Massachusetts
Come to Connors Farm to find your way through this year's maze, "The Music Maze"! Enjoy many family fun activities! After completing the maze, stay and have some fun around the farm. Children enjoy apple and pumpkin picking, hayrides, and most of all, visiting the barnyard animals.
9:00 am to 6:00 pm

Marini Farm Corn Maze

The 2020 Marini Farm Corn Maze in Ipswich Massachusetts!
Come to Marini Farm for a fun journey through our corn maze! This is not your typical corn maze; it is both educational and interactive. There are over 18 stations strategically placed throughout the maze with answers to a game sheet that you will be given before entering. We don't give you clues...
10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Dog Friendly Shops at MarketStreet Lynnfield

Dog Friendly Shops and Restaurants at MarketStreet Lynnfield
Animal lovers will be glad to learn MarketStreet Lynnfield has over 40 shops and restaurants that are dog-friendly. Use #PupsOfMarketStreet on social media when you are there with your four-legged friend to get a free treat at PolkaDog Bakery. Enjoy!
10:00 am to 9:00 pm

Arts and Crafts for Little Ones with Colleen Apostolos

Art Classes for children with Colleen Apostolos
Certified Montessori teacher, artist and local mother, Colleen Apostolos-Marsh will guide your young artist in an exploration of color, shape, and texture. Using a variety of media, your child will be free to express their in a beautiful space while socializing and engaging in cooperative play....
10:15 am to 11:15 am

Color Me Tuesdays at Growing Smile Pediatric Dentristry - Peabody

Growing Smile Pediatric Dentistry and Braces in Peabody MA
Need something fun to do this summer? We've got you covered! Stop by Growing Smiles Pediatric Dentistry and Braces every Tuesday for a different coloring activity. Every Tuesday at 3pm.
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Wednesday, September 30

Sculpture at Maudslay

Artists will install their sculptures at Maudslay State Park for public viewing!
Maudslay State Park has a strong connection to the arts, and one of the highlights of the year is Sculpture at Maudslay! The annual show will be themed 'Passage' - an apprpropriate theme for our 21st. This unique exhibition brings together artists from many walks of life to create site-specific...

Crescent Farm Corn Maze

Crescent Farm corn maze in Haverhill Massachusetts
Imagine the biggest puzzle you’ve ever seen. Now imagine a day in the sunshine with your friends or family. Now add an adventure that takes teamwork and memory skills. All these things and more can be found at Crescent Farms Corn Maze. Crescent Farm Corn Maze trails cut into 9 acres of corn. Inside...

Corn MAiZE and Haunted Attractions at Connors Farm - Danvers

Corn MAiZE, Maze and Haunted Attractions at Connors Farm - Danvers, Massachusetts
Come to Connors Farm to find your way through this year's maze, "The Music Maze"! Enjoy many family fun activities! After completing the maze, stay and have some fun around the farm. Children enjoy apple and pumpkin picking, hayrides, and most of all, visiting the barnyard animals.
9:00 am to 6:00 pm

Hike and Seek at Stevens Coolidge Estate

Come enjoy enjoy a self-guided scavenger hunt at the Trustees of Reservations Stevens-Coolidge Place.
Have you ever had a moment in the woods that felt a little bit mystical? It could be a feeling of connectedness or a sighting of something unusual, like the mini beasts that make the forest their home. The Trustees wants to bring you closer to these fantastical elements of the forest with this self...
9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Marini Farm Corn Maze

The 2020 Marini Farm Corn Maze in Ipswich Massachusetts!
Come to Marini Farm for a fun journey through our corn maze! This is not your typical corn maze; it is both educational and interactive. There are over 18 stations strategically placed throughout the maze with answers to a game sheet that you will be given before entering. We don't give you clues...
10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Dog Friendly Shops at MarketStreet Lynnfield

Dog Friendly Shops and Restaurants at MarketStreet Lynnfield
Animal lovers will be glad to learn MarketStreet Lynnfield has over 40 shops and restaurants that are dog-friendly. Use #PupsOfMarketStreet on social media when you are there with your four-legged friend to get a free treat at PolkaDog Bakery. Enjoy!
10:00 am to 9:00 pm

Arts and Crafts for Little Ones with Colleen Apostolos

Art Classes for children with Colleen Apostolos
Certified Montessori teacher, artist and local mother, Colleen Apostolos-Marsh will guide your young artist in an exploration of color, shape, and texture. Using a variety of media, your child will be free to express their in a beautiful space while socializing and engaging in cooperative play....
10:15 am to 11:15 am

AJH: Mother & Baby Newborns: 0-6 Weeks

Mother and Baby, Newborn Support Groups aAnna Jaques Hospital
MOTHER & BABY GROUPS Anna Jaques Hospital is pleased to offer free group classes for all mothers in our community to provide support, encouragement and advice on parenthood and questions that arise after going home. This new group (for moms, grandmothers, and female caregivers only) is focused...
2:00 pm to 3:30 pm

Stargazing at Mendel Observatory

Mendel Observatory, with the support of volunteers from the North Shore Amateur Astronomy Club, hosts public stargazing every Wednesday night
The Observatory, with the support of volunteers from the North Shore Amateur Astronomy Club, hosts public stargazing every Wednesday night (weather permitting) starting at dusk or 7 p.m., whichever is later.  When special astronomical events of interest occur (total lunar eclipses, etc.) the Obse
7:00 pm

Thursday, October 1

Sculpture at Maudslay

Artists will install their sculptures at Maudslay State Park for public viewing!
Maudslay State Park has a strong connection to the arts, and one of the highlights of the year is Sculpture at Maudslay! The annual show will be themed 'Passage' - an apprpropriate theme for our 21st. This unique exhibition brings together artists from many walks of life to create site-specific...