Lyme disease is transmitted through a bite from a specific type of tick to humans-the deer tick. These ticks are very tiny, the larva and nymph stage are about the size of a period at the end of this sentence, the adult are about the size of a sesame seed. The ticks infect humans by biting them and passing the bacteria into the person’s bloodstream. It takes between 24-48 hours for the tick to transmit the Lyme disease bacteria to you once you have been bitten. Unlike the ordinary “wood ticks” that does not carry the infection.
In the early stages of Lyme disease you may experience flu like symptoms, stiff neck, chills, fever, headaches, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and joint pain. Some people experience the “bulls eye” rash, which may appear anywhere from 1-30 days after the infection. The nervous system may be affected; causing numbness and/or facial paralysis (bells palsy), neck stiffness and headache. Arthritis pain and swelling may develop after several weeks in large joints-knees and hips. There can be irregularities in the heart rhythms and chest pain. Once diagnosed by your doctor Lyme disease is usually treated with 2-4 weeks of antibiotics.
Ticks that carry Lyme disease live in the areas that we also like to live and play in. High risk areas are gardens, lawns and shady areas. The edges of the woods are also prime habitat, as are tall grassy areas, piles of brush, shrubs and trees.
Precautions that we can take are: Wear long sleeves and pants, wear light colors to see the ticks easily, wear a hat or pull hair back, spray yourself with insect repellant containing 20-30% DEET, treat your pets with suitable tick repellant for pets, check yourself , your family and your pets often.
If you find a tick remove the tick as soon as possible by using a tweezers and grasp it as close to the head as possible-careful not to squeeze the body. Pull the tick firmly and steadily, it may pull off a little bit of skin when you do. There are other devises besides tweezers that are available usually sold at some pharmacies. Swab the skin with alcohol…Caution DO NOT use home remedies such as a hot match or petroleum jelly to try to smother the tick; this may make it burrow even deeper. If the tick may have been attached for 24-48 hours call your physician
Lyme disease is not contagious. It cannot be transmitted from person to person. However, you can get it more than once. So, even if you have been exposed and treated you still have to remain vigilant.
So remember, as the weather gets nicer and we are all enjoying the great outdoors, keep an eye out for those ticks and watch for funny looking rashes. If you do become concerned, call your doctor so you can get diagnosed and treated early.