Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in Calvert County as well as in Maryland and the United States. Cases of Lyme disease are found throughout the county and are not concentrated in any particular area. Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.
How is it spread?
Lyme disease is caused by the bite of a deer tick, infected with Lyme disease bacteria. The tick is hard to see because of its small size, about the size of a pinhead.
These ticks are most often found from May through October in tall grass, brush and wooded areas. Pets can bring ticks into the house. Mice also carry ticks.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms usually begin within a month of being infected. In many infected people the tick bite leads to a “bull’s eye” inflammation of the skin that has a clear center with a darker outer ring. Other early symptoms include fever, joint and muscle pains, headache and tiredness. Lyme disease may be hard to diagnose because the symptoms often mimic other diseases and lab tests are unreliable. If you think that you or a family member has been infected with Lyme disease, see your health care provider immediately for diagnosis and treatment.
If left untreated, the infection can become chronic, possibly leading to serious disorders of the heart, joints and nervous system.
Is there a vaccine to prevent Lyme disease?
No. A vaccine was available several years ago but was taken off the market by the manufacturer.
How can it be prevented?
Wear light colored, long sleeved shirts and long pants that you can tuck into your socks or boots when working or walking in areas likely to have ticks.
Apply insect repellents containing DEET to clothes and exposed skin. DEET can safely be used by adults and children but should be applied according to manufacturer’s guidelines to avoid toxicity. Permethrin (an insecticide that kills ticks on contact) can be applied to clothes according to manufacturer’s guidelines.
Perform a tick check daily. (Transmission of Lyme disease is unlikely to occur within the first 36 hours of tick attachment.)
Remove leaves, brush and tall grass from around your house, pathways and gardens.
Discourage infestations of mice in or near your home.
What should I do if I find a tick?
Remove the tick right away. Use tweezers to grip the tick behind its head as close to the skin as possible. With a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from the skin and discard the tick in the toilet or down the drain. Wash your hands with soap and water after handling the tick. Clean the bite with antiseptic. Record the date you found the tick and watch for symptoms for the next 30 days. If a bull’s eye” skin inflammation or symptoms develop, call your health care provider immediately.
Tick Identification Program
A Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) entomologist will identify ticks submitted by Maryland residents. The entomologist will identify the species, life stage and the degree of engorgement of the tick. The tick will not be tested for pathogens.
The submitter provides demographic information, geographic location (town) of the tick encounter, the date of collection, the host (human, pet, or other), and the anatomic site of attachment. Form and instructions available at: http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/OIDEOR/CZVBD/SitePages/Tick%20Identification.aspx.
For more information on Lyme disease, contact the Calvert County Health Department, Disease Surveillance and Response Unit at 410.535.5400 or 301.855.1353 or visit the following websites:
Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Infectious Disease & Environmental Health Administration
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site at