It’s that time of year again when everyone is itching to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Summer activities like hiking and gardening are beneficial for your health, but also come with the potential for contact with ticks, which can transmit Lyme disease. Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected black-legged tick, and is common in our geographic area. While it takes a tick 24 to 36 hours of attachment to a person to transmit the disease, the vast majority of people who get Lyme do not recall being bitten by a tick. It is therefore important to know the early symptoms of Lyme disease, as early detection and treatment that offers the best chance at a cure. 50 to 80 percent of individuals with Lyme disease will develop a rash, usually at or near the site of the tick bite, within three to 30 days. This rash is called “erthema migrans” and is a painless red area, usually larger than two inches, which may expand and develop a central clearing (giving it the appearance of a bullseye). If you see a rash like this on you or your child, see your doctor for treatment. This rash is diagnostic and blood testing for Lyme disease is not necessary. A course of antibiotics will usually cure this early Lyme disease. In other infected individuals, there may be flu-like symptoms. Untreated, Lyme disease can cause problems with nerves, the heart, and joints. People with symptoms related to these systems should see their doctor, as further workup including blood tests may be needed. The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent contact with ticks. Prevent Tick Bites
Create a Tick-proof Zone Around Your House No landscape is going to be completely tick-proof if you live in an area where ticks are prevalent, but there are some simple things you can do to decrease the likelihood of ticks on your property:
How to Properly Remove a Tick If you discover a tick on your body, it is important to remove it as soon as possible in order to reduce the likelihood of contracting Lyme disease.
If you’re unable to remove the tick yourself, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor or an urgent care center to have it removed. While you shouldn’t let concern about ticks hamper your summer fun or prevent you from engaging in the activities that you enjoy, it’s important to be aware that they do carry serious risks. Consider checking yourself and your children for ticks part of your routine when you come in from outdoors. If you find one, don’t panic, but do have it removed as quickly as possible. References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, KidsHealth.org, WebMD.com, Columbia University Medical Center Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center, Harvard Health Publications / Harvard Medical School