Share |
Photo by Rebecca Johnson.
Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

Lyme Disease Awareness

May 25, 2012

May is Lyme disease awareness month. Most of us know the common way of contracting the bacterial infection — through a deer tick bite. My husband and I had a close encounter with a tick a couple of weeks ago while hunting morel mushrooms. We knew enough about Lyme disease to get worried, but it turns out contraction in South Dakota is very rare.

The deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) has been detected occasionally in far-eastern South Dakota. But in the 2011 survey conducted by South Dakota State University and funded by the Department of Health no deer ticks were found. “My interpretation is that we probably have low levels of Ixodes ticks in isolated areas of eastern South Dakota,” says Lon Kightlinger, State Epidemiologist. “Our main Lyme disease risk is for South Dakota residents who travel to Lyme-endemic states, like Minnesota where over 1,000 human cases are reported annually.” Last year there were four human Lyme disease cases reported and all were with out-of-state tick exposure. “The deer tick habitat is dense forest area, not prairie,” says Kightlinger. “Our environment is protective.”

Though contraction in South Dakota is very rare, I felt better familiarizing myself with the symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), early indicators may seem flu-like, including fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes. A very obvious symptom that occurs in about 70-80% of infected cases is erythema migrans or a “bulls-eye” rash at the site of the tick bite. The circular rash gradually expands and can grow as large as 12 inches in diameter. Parts of the rash may fade as it grows, creating its bulls-eye appearance. Later symptoms include loss of muscle tone in the face, severe headaches and neck stiffness due to inflammation of the spinal cord, pain and swelling in large joints, heart palpitations and dizziness. Most cases can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Left untreated, Lyme disease may cause severe arthritis and chronic neurological problems.

And in case you were wondering, wood ticks and dogs tick do not carry Lyme disease. “You can only get Lyme disease from the Ixodes deer ticks," says Kightlinger. "Dog ticks, however, may transmit tularemia or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever." Visit the CDC web site for information on preventing tick bites and tick removal.


11:33 am - Thu, May 31 2012
Miranda said:
It's good to hear that the deer ticks haven't taken up residency in South Dakota yet. Thanks for sharing. It eases my fear of ticks... a little.
02:19 pm - Thu, May 31 2012
Elayne said:
But I'm still not going to let any of my cats out of the house!
07:51 pm - Thu, May 31 2012
Jim said:
Good column Rebecca. Most ''outdoor dangers '' impress me as being exaggerated. Lyme disease is serious business. It may be considered rare but I personally know three people from southeast SD that contracted it. Anyone thinking they may have symptoms should seek medical attention. I don't worry about mountain lions, blizzards or getting lost but ticks can cause real damage.
03:48 pm - Wed, March 20 2013
Laurie Linda Cody said:
Sadly, the CDC is not reporting to America the pandemic of Lyme Disease in other parts of the U.S. For those folks living in states not yet overwhelmed with LD like SD and ND, please Google the LD sites in states in the east and southeast where they are fighting a losing battle with insurance companies and the government, including the CDC. You will see that the medical industry has hidden their heads in the sand, refusing treatment for the most part and telling suffers they are 'making it all up'. Pray that Deer Ticks never become the menace in ND and SD as they are in other parts of our beautiful America.
03:55 pm - Wed, March 20 2013
Laurie Linda Cody said:
As an added source of information, I created a FACEBOOK page called "LYME DISEASE - the Secret Plague".

It is an "INFORMATION ONLY" page giving exposure to a myriad of LD sites located all over the U.S.

I keep adding to it and hope that it would be a help for folks who are are doing detective work on LYME DISEASE.
09:53 am - Fri, February 21 2014
Lorene said:
Lyme disease is in South Dakota and it does affect humans. I got bit my something in Rapid City 6 years ago. I did not have an attached tick nor did I even see what bit me but it hurt! Within 2 weeks I got three huge bulls-eye rashes and all the symptoms. I did not travel out of state and it was cold outside. I was only outside to get in my car to go to the grocery store and back. I was treated with antibiotics for a short period of time. Six years later my symptoms remain. It does the sate of South Dakota no good to say that we are immune to this horrible disease. More research and effective treatment is needed.
08:13 pm - Fri, February 6 2015
Sharon said:
While visting my hometown in SE SD in 2010, I managed to get bitten by several ticks. Oddly, the last several years I have had a myriad of issues ranging from swollen, painful joints, cramping muscles, walking difficulties, eye problems, anxiety, blood cell irregularities, exhaustion, dizzy spells, just to name a few. A friend from Colorado says to get checked out for Lyme disease. Who knows. I just know that I am not getting better after antibiotics, medications, therapy, etc. I am going to ask for the test.

Share your thoughts, post a comment to this story:

Your Name:
Your Email Address:  
Your Website:
2000 characters remaining
Web Design by LVSYS