Lyme Disease

With the warm weather arriving it is time to remind everyone to protect themselves from ticks and Lyme disease.

Ixodes ticksIxodes ticks are much smaller than the common dog and cattle ticks. In their larval and nymph stages, they are no bigger than a pinhead. Adult Ixodes ticks are larger, about the size of a small apple seed. Left to right: Adult Female, Adult male, nymph, larva

You can take precautions to protect yourself from a tick bite:

  • Avoid areas that could have ticks, such as wooded areas with tall grass and leaf litter.
  • Use repellants per label instructions: Adults can use 20-30% DEET on exposed skin and (or permethrin) on clothing to prevent tick bites, 10% DEET on children above 2 months old.
  • Wear protective clothing, long pants and sleeves, and tuck pants into socks or boots so ticks cannot crawl under clothing.
  • Environmental- landscaping with woodchips or gravel and clearing tall grasses and brushes to create tick safe areas around homes, parks, fields and recreational areas.
  • Check for ticks on self, children, and pets after being outdoors. If you find one, remove it immediately with tweezers as close as possible to skin and pull upward and out with a firm and steady tension. If tweezers are not available, use fingers shielded with tissue paper or rubber gloves so you’re not handling it with bare hands (tick may contain infectious fluids). After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash hands. See or call a doctor if there is a concern about incomplete tick removal.

 

People should contact their physician if they develop symptoms

  • Tick must be attached for 24 hours before it can transmit the disease (note: only nymph and female adult deer ticks transmit Lyme disease to humans, adult deer ticks are mostly active in the fall and spring, whereas nymphs are seen mostly in the summer months.)
  • Symptoms may start as a circular reddish rash around or near the site of the tick bite, which EXPANDS in size over a period of days or weeks. May also experience other symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, stiff neck, muscle and/or joint pain. These signs and symptoms may last for several weeks. (Note: the difference between an allergic reaction and the Lyme disease rash is that an allergic reaction usually does not expand.)
  • The disease can be treated with antibiotics, it can be very effective if treated early. There was a vaccine available in 1998 but the manufacture discontinued production in 2002, because there was not enough demand for the product due to the need for frequent boosters. The vaccine was expensive and it was not approved for children. Researched for new and better vaccine is ongoing.

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