How to detect and prevent Lyme Disease

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How To Detect And Prevent Lyme Disease


by Joseph Miner
It's summer and time to head outside and enjoy mother nature! But when you get inside, you should always check for ticks. They're not just gross, you can get Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by tick bites, especially from deer ticks.

Most of the reported cases occur in the northeastern and north central areas of the U.S. like New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

It sounds pretty scary, but there are ways to figure out if you've got Lyme disease before it really has its hooks in you. If you get bit by a tick and develop a rash, go see your doctor. That's the most common and obvious sign of Lyme disease.

The most common symptoms are fatigue, headache, joint pain, and heart palpitations. Lyme disease doesn't pop up on blood tests in the early stages, but it will after a while.

So how do you protect yourself from ticks?

Before heading into a wooded or grassy area, apply a tick repellent. If you don't have access to any, ticks don't like lemon or lavender scented products. So using a moisturizer or perfume with those scents will keep the ticks away.

Tie up long hair up and wear a hat, checking your hat for ticks is easier than going over every inch of your scalp.

Not all ticks carry Lyme disease, but it's better to be safe than sorry.​​

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How to detect and prevent Lyme Disease

Know the facts

  • Lyme disease is transmitted by black-legged deer ticks
  • Lyme is a result of infection with the bacterium, Borrelia Burgdorferi
  • There is no evidence Lyme can be transmitted by any other mode
  • All ticks do not transmit disease

(Photo credit: AP) 

Be proactive

  • Avoid tick bites, especially in areas known to harbor deer ticks.
  • Stay out of wooded areas or areas with high grasses
  • When hiking, stick to the trail
  • Cover as much skin as possible, with loose breathable clothing
  • Repel ticks with DEET or permethrin. Use according to directions. Adults should apply on children to avoid ingestion or inhalation.For more information on insect repellants, visit the EPA guide

(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Check for ticks

  • Infected ticks have to be attached to the skin for 36-48 hours
  • After coming in from the outdoors, check yourself and your kids
  • Black legged ticks can be as small as a poppy seed, so the search has to be very thorough
  • Look in hard to see areas, like the groin, scalp and armpits
  • Pets cannot transmit disease, but they can bring ticks inside the home. Check them as well.

(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Look for symptoms
Symptoms of early Lyme disease usually appear within 3 – 30 days after infection and include:

  • Red, expanding bulls-eye rash starting at the site of the bite
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and chills
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes

70-80% of patients will get the trademark Erythema Migrans rash.  Because symptoms are vague, being vigilant and aware is key to getting timely treatment

(Photo credit: Getty) 

Seek medical help

  • If you suspect you have Lyme disease, see your doctor immediately.
  • Diagnosis is best made by history and symptoms.
  • Blood tests can be a useful adjunct in some cases.
  • If untreated, the following symptoms can occur:
    • Rash on other parts of the body
    • Bell's palsy – paralysis of the facial muscles
    • Meningitis symptoms including headaches and neck stiffness
    • Large joint pain
    • Heart Palpitations and dizziness

(Photo credit: Alamy)

Sen. Kemp Hannon, R-Garden City, speaks during a news conference on Lyme and tick-borne diseases on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. New York senators are proposing several measures to deal with tick-borne Lyme disease that appears to be spreading across the state. The task force report cites 462 cases reported through the first week of June in New York and a recent federal estimate of 300,000 new cases annually with only a fraction actually reported. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
In a Thursday, June 12, 2014 photo, Samantha Durfey, left, and Christiaan King drag corduroy cloth squares through underbrush to collect ticks during field work at the Pine Bush Preserve in Albany, N.Y.Researchers from Paul Smith's College, the Trudeau Institute and state Health Department have launched a study to document the spread of ticks and Lyme disease into the Adirondacks. (AP Photo/Mary Esch) (AP Photo/Mary Esch)
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