Reporting Kai Jackson
HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)—The tick tube. Local health leaders are using a new weapon to help protect you from Lyme disease.
Kai Jackson explains the new fight against troublesome ticks.
A new strategy is helping Howard County get aggressive with ticks. Health leaders hope to get a handle on Lyme disease by squashing the ones that carry it in their tracks.
Lyme disease is an inflammatory illness spread through a tick bite, and the state of Maryland is a haven for the tiny pests that can leave victims severely debilitated.
Ken Hilger got Lyme disease in 2008. Even though he was treated, his problems persisted.
“Started feeling more fatigue, started getting headaches, achy joints, arthritis kind of feeling,” said Hilger, Lyme disease victim.
Howard County is unveiling a new program to combat these near microscopic bugs. It’s called the tick tube. Officials will place them throughout the county.
“The project we have going in Howard County is to use this toilet roll tubes that are stuffed with cotton that have insecticide put on them, which kills ticks,” said Dr. Peter Beilenson, Howard County Health Commissioner.
Beilenson says most people associate Lyme disease with the deer tick. Those are adult ticks. Young ticks, or nymphs, are just as problematic and feed off mice. The tick tube will target young ticks.
“Mice come and get on this cotton to take back to their nests. And then the nymphs that are on the mice get killed by this,” Beilenson said.
Tick bites often, but not always, leave victims with a red rash with a bulls-eye appearance.
Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, but that’s no guarantee of a cure.
“It’s easily treated by antibiotics,” Beilenson said. “If it’s not treated quickly, however, it can become chronic.”
Health experts say you can avoid getting Lyme disease by avoiding tick-infested areas, wearing insect repellant and long-sleeved clothes when going outside. You should also perform daily checks on your children and pets. But be advised that the dog tick and the deer tick are two different things. The deer tick is much smaller.
Howard County is No. 2 in Maryland for Lyme disease. Last year there were seven confirmed cases.