May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month in the United States. Health officials advise Mainers do tick checks on themselves and pets after being outdoors. Above, a deer tick, carrier of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

AUGUSTA — Welcome to the start of tick season.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month in the United States, and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a reminder that everyone be “tick aware and tick alert,” especially as the days get warmer.

Maine game wardens are definitely seeing ticks, according to spokesman John MacDonald.

Ticks like damp, wet grass and woods. The National Weather Service said Tuesday that Maine in April received 5.14 inches of rain — 23.3% more than the typical 4.17 inches.

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection passed through the bite of an infected deer tick. Maine health care providers reported more than 1,400 cases of Lyme disease in 2018, according to the Maine CDC.

Most at risk are adults older than 65 and children between the ages of 5 and 15, and individuals who frequently work or play outside.


Lyme disease is treatable and most people recover with the right care.

Prevention, meanwhile, requires avoiding tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease.

Released Tuesday, the state’s Lyme disease alert urged:

• Using caution in areas where ticks might be found.

• Wearing light-colored clothing that covers arms and legs, and that makes it easier to spot ticks.

• Using an Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellent, such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.


• Performing tick checks on people and pets every day, especially after outdoor activities.

Taking a shower is recommended to inspect for and wash off ticks, which, if attached for 24 to 48 hours, can transmit bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

Those bitten by deer ticks must monitor for early symptoms of Lyme disease, and should call their health care providers if symptoms develop.

The most common sign of Lyme disease is a skin lesion known as a “bull’s-eye” rash, which usually appears three to 30 days after a tick bite. Other symptoms include fever, headache and joint or muscle pain.

In addition to Lyme disease, other diseases carried by deer ticks include anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Borrelia miyamotoi and Powassan. All four continue to be public health concerns, according to the Maine CDC.

While the deer tick is the only species in Maine that causes Lyme disease, a number of other species of ticks are found across the state. When bitten and when removing a tick, identifying what kind it is is important. To learn more, see the Maine CDC website at

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Tick ID Lab also offers identification, testing services and educational material at

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