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Governor Hassan Proclaims May 2016 Lyme Disease Awareness Month as Statewide Survey Finds 64% of Residents Concerned About Disease
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Bureau of Infectious Disease Control
Publish Date:
May 26, 2016

Concord, NH – Governor Maggie Hassan has issued a proclamation that May 2016 is Lyme Disease Prevention Month in New Hampshire. The Governor's proclamation encourages residents to continue to raise awareness of Lyme disease to prevent further expansion of the disease. According to a recent statewide survey conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, 64% of residents believe they are at high or moderate risk of personally becoming infected with Lyme disease.

Lyme and other tickborne diseases are spread to humans and animals by the bite of an infected tick. In New Hampshire, and across the United States, Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tickborne disease—New Hampshire is one of the states with the highest rate of reported Lyme; children under the age of 14 are at highest risk for contracting Lyme disease.

Lyme disease, as well as anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan virus, are transmitted by the bite of the black-legged tick, formerly known as the deer tick. Black-legged ticks have four life stages: eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults. The black-legged tick nymphs are most active in the late spring through summer months (usually May through August) and are the most likely to infect humans with tickborne diseases. Lyme disease is a serious illnesse and can affect people of any age.

The statewide survey was conducted in April after an Advisory Committee of Lyme disease prevention experts from around the State, including the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services (DPHS), was convened by the Community Health Institute with funding from the NH Charitable Foundation. After reviewing a wide range of potential prevention projects, the Advisory Committee chose to dedicate resources to two initiatives: conducting a statewide survey of New Hampshire residents regarding their knowledge and behaviors around Lyme disease prevention and developing and conducting a statewide Lyme disease prevention education campaign.

Lyme disease can be prevented by taking precautions when going in wooded, grassy, or brushy areas. Effective precautions include: 1) applying insect repellent with 20–30% DEET every time you go into a wooded, grassy, or brushy area; 2) spraying shoes and clothing with Permethrin, a human-safe chemical that actually kills ticks; 3) wearing light-colored clothing, with pants tucked into your socks; 4) showering after being outside; and 5) conducting a daily tick check for your children and yourself.

The survey found that only 28% of NH residents always apply repellent before going to a tick habitat and only 63% of residents said they always check for ticks after being in wooded, grassy, or brushy areas. This leaves 32% of NH residents that never or only sometimes check for ticks after spending time in tick habitat. Conducting a daily tick check is one of the most effective methods of preventing Lyme and other tickborne diseases.

If you find a tick, you can kill it by submerging it in rubbing alcohol or wrapping the tick tightly in tape. If you are bitten by a tick, remove the tick as soon and as safely as possible—with flat-head tweezers as close to the skin as possible, grasp the tick and pull directly out. As always, if you have any questions or concerns about a tick bite, contact your healthcare provider.

The statewide Lyme disease prevention education campaign will be launched in the coming months, with initial outreach efforts focusing on families and outdoor enthusiasts. Ticks are active in all weather above freezing—don't let a little tick become a big problem. For more information about how to identify, prevent or deal with ticks, visit the NH DPHS dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/lyme/index.htm and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov/ticks.

Learn about other public health initiatives at the Community Health Institute at http://nhchi.org and the NH Charitable Foundation https://www.nhcf.org/.

 
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