Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is an infection caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. An infected tick transmits the bacteria to its victims by biting.  The tick must be attached to your skin for 36 hours or more for transmission of bacteria to take place.

A circular rash surrounding the tick bite is the first sign of infection, and can appear up to 30 days after tick removal. Additional symptoms include flu-like symptoms, fatigue, headache, chills and fever, generalized body aches, joint pain, and swollen lymph glands.

States with the most frequent exposure to these ticks are the New England, Mid-Atlantic States, and the Midwest. These ticks are often found on deer and like wooded, grassy areas. Lab tests can confirm diagnosis but must be several weeks into the infection so the body has time to develop antibodies.

Treatment of choice is an antibiotic, which may have to be taken for several weeks. The most common antibiotics used are amoxicillin, and cefuroxime. Treatment is more effective if started early. If the infection is serious, IV antibiotics may be needed.  Reinfection is possible with another tick bite by an infected tick. If left untreated, neurological problems can develop, including meningitis, and heart rhythm disturbance.

To prevent a tick from attaching itself to your skin wear clothes that covers your skin. Spray your skin and clothes with an insect spray that contains 20-30% DEET.  Try to stay away from wooded, grassy areas.  Check yourself and your pets for ticks when you return indoors. If you find a tick remove it with tweezers near the head.

Make sure you seek medical attention if you start having symptoms after a tick bite, you have an irregular heartbeat, nerve pain, and your face feels numb.

 

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