Lyme Disease

“In areas where large numbers of deer are killed, there is often an increase in people and pets affected by Lyme disease because ticks questing for a mid-size to large host are more likely to end up on people or dogs.”

 

Lyme disease is often a scare tactic used by those who want deer killed.

Lyme disease is often cited as a negative effect of the presence of deer. The association between deer and the spread of Lyme disease is strongly suggested, though factually, killing deer does not impact Lyme disease cases.

Deer are not carriers of Lyme disease.

While deer do play a role in incidents of Lyme disease, they are not carriers of the disease. Deer are not considered “primary” because they are not carriers – mice are – but instead serve as a reproductive host.

Deer are what is known as “dead end” hosts meaning that the deer do not carry or spread the disease. Even if a lot of deer are killed, there will be no measurable reduction in Lyme disease. This is because ticks congregate in greater numbers on the remaining deer, or switch to other convenient hosts, such as people and dogs. In areas where large numbers of deer are killed, there is often an increase in people and pets affected by Lyme disease because ticks questing for a mid-size to large host are more likely to end up on people or dogs. Overall, killing deer is clearly of no use in solving the problem.

Deer contribute to keep the ticks clean since they are not carriers of the Borrelia bacteria. Therefore ticks that have used deer as a host do not contain Borrelia that can infect humans.

Mice *are* carriers of Lyme disease.

“White-footed mice are super spreaders,” said Kay. “Eight of ten tick larvae that feed on a mouse will come off infected. That’s really high.” She said in contrast, “The bird population transmits less Borrelia than the mice. Totally contrastingly, are the white-tailed deer, which are not susceptible to Lyme disease. If they can’t obtain it, they can’t spread the infection.”

Prevention & Personal Responsibility is Key

There are numerous ways people can prevent getting bitten by a tick in the first place, such as: stay out of the woods, use DEET repellent, cover your skin and inspect your body as soon as you come inside. Be sure to check your domestic animals (dogs & cats) as well if they have been outside, in the woods, or in other areas known to harbor ticks.

Seek immediate treatment for suspected tick bites.

Only a minority of black-legged tick bites leads to Lyme disease. The longer the tick remains attached to your skin, the greater your risk of getting the disease. Lyme infection is unlikely if the tick is attached for less than 36 to 48 hours.

The odds of getting Lyme disease is very low (less than 5% of bites result in infection).

The odds of getting Lyme disease from an individual deer tick bite are pretty low: even in tick-ridden areas, less than 5 percent of bites result in an infection. But those that do are easy to deal with, Sood says. “Lyme disease is completely treatable. All the symptoms literally melt away with antibiotics.”

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Sources

Effective Wildlife Solutions – Lyme Disease – Getting at the Real Culprit, or Can We?

Science Daily – Lyme Disease: You Can’t Blame the Deer

Science News – Five Reasons to Not Totally Panic About Ticks and Lyme Disease

Mayo Clinic – Lyme Disease

Block Island Times – Deer and Mice are Lyme Disease Culprits