The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease every year, with rates expected to climb in 2021 due in part to climate change.
Since tick bites and Lyme Disease are on the rise, we want to make sure our patients have as much information as possible about this common, potentially serious condition.
1) Not All Ticks Carry Lyme Disease.
There are 90 species of ticks in the U.S., but only one species, known as the deer tick, carries Lyme disease. The deer tick is small, hard-shelled and reddish-brown in color. The male deer tick measures about 1/16”. The female deer tick is larger, measuring about 1/8”.
2) Lyme Disease is More Prevalent in Certain Geographic Regions.
Ninety-five percent of Lyme disease cases occur in just 14 states. Rates of Lyme disease are more prevalent in northeastern and mid-Atlantic states, as well as Minnesota and Wisconsin.
3) There are Several Ways to Prevent Tick Bites.
In order to prevent tick bites, it’s important to know that ticks are most active during warmer months (usually April to September). It’s also important to remember that you’re most likely to encounter ticks in wooded, grassy areas. To prevent tick bites, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when you’re going to spend time outdoors. Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent (you can read more about that here). And treat clothing, hiking gear and camping gear with a product that contains at least 0.5% permethrin.
After spending time outdoors, it’s important to check yourself, your kids and your pets for ticks, since ticks attached to the skin for less than 36 hours aren’t able to transmit Lyme disease. (You can read more about proper tick removal tips here)
4) Lyme Disease is Preventable.
If you do find a tick that may have been embedded in your skin for more than 36 hours, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention. A medical provider can safely remove the tick and can prescribe you a one-time dose of an antibiotic that can prevent a Lyme infection if taken early enough after a tick bite.
5) Lyme Disease is Treatable.
Lyme disease occurs in three stages. Early symptoms of the disease include a red, round rash that looks like a bullseye, body aches, fevers, headaches and joint pain. If left untreated, symptoms can progress to liver inflammation, cardiac arrhythmias, severe fatigue and paralysis.
The good news is that Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics, and the majority of patients make a full recovery once they’ve completed the appropriate course of treatment.
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