Each year, 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.) Lyme disease occurs after a person has been infected with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacteria is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks who have been attached to its host for 36 to 48 hours.
These ticks can be found in wooded and high grass areas. Fortunately, you can take preventative measures to try and ensure your safety.
- Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants.
- Use insect repellant that contains DEET.
- Bathe immediately after being outdoors.
- Inspect for ticks within two hours of being outdoors.
Most people infected with the bacteria will develop a rash with a solid center and a ring around it; also called a bulls-eye. This rash typically occurs about 36 hours after a tick has found a host. In the next week, you may experience a fever, chills, and aches and pains. You should seek medical treatment immediately. At this time, most Lyme disease cases are treated with an antibiotic.
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Lyme disease can cause facial palsy, severe headaches, swelling in large joints, shooting pains, and changes in heartbeat if not initially treated with antibiotics. Up to 20 percent of Lyme disease cases can cause lasting symptoms, including arthritis in the joints, cognitive difficulties, chronic fatigue, and sleep disturbances, even after antibiotic treatment.
The blacklegged tick’s prime season is summer; however, research has shown that climate change could prolong the feeding season for ticks increasing the spread of Lyme disease.
Keep yourself and family safe by checking for ticks right away after being outside in wooded and high grass areas to decrease your risk of Lyme disease.
Source: healthline.com, “Lyme Disease: More Common and More Dangerous Than You Think”