Lyme Disease: Are You at Risk?

More reports of Lyme Disease happen in the months of June and July. If you like to spend time outdoors, especially in wooded areas or hiking along trails with high grass, it is important to know how to prevent and recognize this illness.

Lyme Disease is caused by a bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi) passed to humans through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick. If noticed early, Lyme Disease can be treated with a few weeks of antibiotics. If left untreated, however, it can spread and cause damage to joints, the heart and the nervous system. The first signs of an infection are a fever, headache, unusual fatigue, and a butterfly rash that forms over the nose and cheeks of the infected person.

The blacklegged tick is found mostly in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and northern-central parts of the United States. However, if you are out in any area that may be inhabited by ticks, take steps to lessen the risk of bites by using insect repellent with DEET, wearing long shirts and pants, and removing the ticks promptly and safely after a bite.

If you’re bitten by a tick, remove it with clean tweezers by gripping the tick closely to the skin and pulling straight up. Do not twist the tick, as you risk splitting the tick and leaving the mouth still attached to the skin. Avoid home solutions such as covering the tick with clear polish or heating the tick with fire. It is important to remove the tick as quickly as possible. Don’t wait for it to detach on its own.

Lyme Disease is not a nationwide disease, but the precautions taken to prevent tick bites can also help in preventing insect bites that can cause other harmful illnesses. Stay safe this summer by limiting your risk of insect bites of all kinds.