Lyme Disease Has Been Discovered in 9 National Parks

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Lyme Disease Has Been Discovered in 9 National Parks

Researches from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Park Service (NPS) collected ticks in 9 different national parks. They found blacklegged ticks—also called deer ticks—present and carrying Lyme Disease in every park that they inspected.

The parks on this list include: Acadia National Park in Maine; Catoctin Mountain Park and Monocacy National Battlefield in Maryland; Fire Island National Seashore in Long Island, N.Y.; Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania; Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. and Manassas National Battlefield Park, Prince William Forest Park and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

The study was originally conducted due to the significant number of cases of Lyme disease reported in the areas. Lyme Disease symptoms include fever, headache and rash, and, if left untreated, the infection can spread to the heart, joint and nervous system, where it will trigger more severe damage.

Planning a hike in one of these nine national parks? Here is what the CDC and NPS recommend you do to protect yourself from contracting the disease:

• Use repellents that contain 20-30 percent DEET on exposed skin and clothing.
• Use products that contain permethrin on clothing.
• Shower within two hours of leaving a tick-prone area.
• Check yourself for ticks and remove attached ticks.
• Dry your clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any ticks on your clothing.
• Check pets and gear for ticks.
• Hike in the center of trails.
• Avoid sitting down or leaning on logs or bushes along the trail.

Researcher Tammi Johnson with the CDC, said in a news release that “the results of this study serve as a reminder that while enjoying the parks, visitors can and should take steps to help protect themselves and their loved ones from tick and other bites.”

This was the first large-scale survey to occur in multiple national parks. Since the results prove that diseased ticks are present, they could very well be present elsewhere.

Photo: Ragnhild Brosvik, CC-BY

Elizabeth Chambers is a health intern with Paste and a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia.