Lyme Disease Prevention, Detection and Treatment

Alli Walsh, Social Media Strategist

Lyme Disease Prevention, Detection and Treatment

Did you know Lyme disease could be at the root of unexplained symptoms like facial paralysis, arthritis, rash or fatigue? While most cases are easily treated, if left undiagnosed or untreated, the infection can spread to the joints, heart or nervous system. Transmitted through a simple bite from a tick containing the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, the disease is preventable. With tick season in full spring swing, it’s time to think about protecting your family members—including your pets—from ticks and Lyme disease.

Reduce tick exposure.

The best way to avoid Lyme disease is to limit exposure to ticks. Know your risk: in 2014, 96 percent of confirmed U.S. Lyme disease cases were reported in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. If you live in one of these states, take extra precautions.

Avoid grassy areas, especially during the months of April through September when ticks are most prolific. When walking on trails, the Centers for Disease Control recommend staying in the center, away from brush along the sides. Wear a bug repellent and when you return home, bathe and check for ticks. Check inconspicuous areas like the belly button, underarms and hair. Inspect gear and wash clothing worn in possible tick infected areas upon returning home.

Remove and dispose of ticks

Should you find a tick that’s not attached to your skin, soak it in alcohol, place in a zip top bag or flush it down the toilet. If a tick is attached, remove it as soon as possible. Pinching the tick’s head with tweezers as close to the skin as possible, remove the tick by pulling steadily upward. If any parts remain in the skin, remove them with tweezers and dispose of the tick.

Look for symptoms.

 Infections typically surface within 30 days of the bite of an infected tick. Fever, headache, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and joint pain are common and may or may not occur with an erythema mirgrans rash. This rash:

  • Is common—it occurs in more than 70 percent of infections
  • Most often occurs within seven days of a tick bite, at the bite site
  • Gradually enlarges, may reach up to 12 inches across, sometimes resembling a “bull’s eye” appearance
  • Isn’t painful or itchy, but may feel warm to the touch

See your doctor.

If you experience symptoms after a tick bite or possible tick exposure, let your doctor know. A laboratory blood test can help diagnose Lyme disease and new early detection measures are in development. Doctors typically use antibiotics to treat the condition, but a small percentage of patients go on to have symptoms that last more than six months. This condition, called Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome, may require extended treatment.

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