Maryland health officials warn public about lyme disease

BALTIMORE - Gov. Martin O’Malley has named May Tick-borne Disease Awareness Month in Maryland.

Lyme disease is the third most common communicable disease reported in Maryland, with more than 1,650 cases reported in 2012.

Other diseases that can be transmitted by ticks include anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain, other spotted fever diseases and tularemia. Most tick-borne diseases can be cured with antibiotics, especially when treatment is started early.

Immature ticks are extremely small and can be located in wooded and grassy areas.

"After spending time in the yard or hiking in the woods, perform visual checks to ensure you, your family and pets are tick-free," Laura Herrera, the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s deputy secretary for public health services, said in a news release.

In Maryland, the most common ticks are the lone star tick, the black-legged tick and the American dog tick. Ticks survive by consuming blood from a host which can be a human, dog, cat or another warm-blooded animal.

Residents who have been bitten by a tick can download a tick identification form  from the state Department of Agriculture.

Be sure to fill out the form completely, tape the tick (do not send photos) to a small piece of paper or put into a dry container. Mail the tick and identification form to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Plant Protection and Weed Management Section, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, Md., 21401. The department will respond with a letter of identification, usually within about two weeks. 

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