By: Larry Studt, M.D., Occupational Health & Medicine Program, Sacred Heart and St. Joseph Hospitals
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by a tick. While it is a good idea to take preventive measures against ticks year-round, be extra vigilant in warmer months (April-September) when ticks are most active. Some simple steps to prevent Lyme disease include applying tick repellents with DEET to your clothing, shoes and socks before going out; when walking in wooded or grassy areas, wear shoes, long pants tucked into your socks, a long-sleeved shirt, a hat and gloves; and try to stick to trails and avoid walking through low bushes and long grass.
Check for ticks after being outdoors. Check under your arms, in and around your ears, inside your belly button, behind your knees, around your waist, and especially in your hair. Ticks can cling to clothing and pets and then attach to a person later, so don’t forget to carefully examine pets, coats, and backpacks.
If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers. Don't squeeze or crush the tick, but pull carefully and steadily. Once you've removed the entire tick, dispose of it and apply antiseptic to the bite area.
Typical symptoms of Lyme Disease include flu-like symptoms such as a stiff neck, chills, fever, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pain. You also may experience a large, expanding skin rash around the area of the tick bite that looks like a “bull’s eye.”
Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. However, if left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
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