Protecting Yourself Against Lyme Disease

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lyme-diseaseLyme disease is caused by the bite of a tick infected with the corkscrew-shaped bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease is one of the fastest emerging infectious diseases in North America and unfortunately one that may be hard to diagnose.

If you know you have been bitten by a tick, you should remove it carefully. You can pull a tick out yourself if you’re careful. Using a pair of fine-pointed tweezers and a steady hand, grasp the tick’s mouth parts, not the body, and slowly pull it straight out. Many outdoor stores also sell tick removal tools.

Then watch for symptoms. Fifty percent of people infected with Lyme develop what’s known as a bull’s-eye rash. The first physical signs of Lyme disease are often flu-like symptoms such as sore throat, headaches and congestion. Other symptoms include:

Muscle twitching, pain or cramps
Stiff or painful neck or jaw
Double or blurry vision
Eye pain or swelling
Extreme fatigue
Diarrhea or constipation
Shortness of breath
Night sweats or unexplained chills
Confusion

If you have any of these symptoms, let your doctor know as soon as possible. Left untreated, Lyme can be debilitating. Antibiotics are the most common and effective treatment for Lyme disease, but there are natural alternatives that help as well. To learn more, contact us.

It can be hard to detect a tick or know that you’ve been bitten. During its nymph stage, a tick is only as big as a period at the end of a sentence. Fully grown, it can be the size of a pea. Ticks usually come in contact with people by positioning themselves on tall grass and bushes.

The risk of being infected is greatest from May through September. Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, are most often found in forests, grassy fields, nature parks, beaches, and gardens. It’s not just hiking in the woods where people can be exposed to ticks. You can come into contact with them while doing any outdoor activities, such as gardening, golfing, or camping.

When outdoors, you can reduce the risk of a tick bite by wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and closed-toe shoes. Tuck your pants into your socks and wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to spot ticks. And check your clothes and your body often.

Have fun and stay safe this summer!

Photo from here, with thanks.

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June 2016
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