PART TWO: Fighting Lyme Disease

Published: Jun. 20, 2019 at 7:18 PM EDT
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"Through our lab we're kind of trying to provide surveillance on tick populations as well as the pathogens that they spread," says Griffin Dill.

Griffin Dill is doing critical research on ticks at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. He says reported cases of disease from ticks is increasing and so is the population here in Maine.

"It's a more forested state with the human element mixed in so it's kind of created the perfect habitat for ticks as well as their wild life hosts."

He says people don't have to change their lifestyle, but it is important to take some simple precautions, like treating clothing and gear with repellents, like permethrin which is a highly effective repellent for ticks.

"We want people to be aware of ticks but not afraid. We want people to go outside."

"I got sick after two tick bites."

Constance "Happy" Dickey is a founding director of Maine Lyme. Happy and the others behind the organization have made education, support and prevention their mission because they know isolating and costly it can be.

"Everything after the tick bite is more complicated than preventing the tick bite. We need to make prevention second-nature to us."

There are multiple resources on the Maine Lyme website for prevention and education including what to do if you find a tick attached to your skin. It's important not to put any soaps, ointments, alcohol or heat on the tick and do not squeeze the body of it. Take note of when the tick was found and mark the bite area. Report any illness or rashes to your doctor. You can even send the tick to the UMaine Tick Lab for testing.

Your pets are susceptible, too.

""For the most part of if your animal gets sick with it they have a fever. That's one of the first signs. So same with a human if you feel tired, lethargic, you don't really feel like moving around, so if you see that, it's one of the things we start to think of," says Dr. David Cloutier at the Veazie Veterinary Clinic.,

They can also test and treat for Lyme at the Veazie Veterinary Clinic. Care that comprehensive for people is what those in this fight are hoping for.

"I've heard from so many of my constituents."

Including Senator Susan Collins who has recently introduced the TICK Act.

"It's evident from the exploding numbers of these illnesses that are borne by ticks that we need to do much more."

Dill says he meets with a group run by the Maine CDC ona regular basis for a statewide strategy. He says he wants people to know work in being done in the fight against Lyme.

"Hopefully, we make some breakthroughs on potential management strategies for controlling tick population's as well as the medical side with the potential for new treatments even vaccination."