Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, and is transmitted to humans through a bite of an infected blacklegged tick (deer tick). Ticks are normally found in wooded areas and in high grassy areas. In most cases, humans are infected by a small immature tick known as a "nymph". The tick needs to be attached for 36 to 48 hours in order to transmit Lyme disease to another animal. Oftentimes these attached ticks are not noticed, as they are often found in areas of the body like the armpit, groin or scalp.
Symptoms typically can include a fever, headache, fatigue, and a "bull's-eye"- like rash on the skin where the person was bitten. If left untreated over a long time, the infection can sometimes spread to the joints, nervous and cardiac systems. If you notice a rash and are experiencing the above symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a course of antibiotics. Bloodwork may also be ordered by your doctor.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MYSELF? Avoid tick-infested areas, particularly during the summer months. Use an insect repellent! You can also use permethrin on camping gear and tents.Also, check your body for ticks daily if you have been in a high-risk area. If you find one, remove it carefully. It is important to avoid crushing the body. Grasp the tick as close to your body as possible and firmly pull in an upward direction. Then, be sure to clean the area with antiseptic. Never use remedies like hot matches, nail polish, or Vaseline to attempt to make the tick pull away from your skin. The sooner you remove the tick, the better your chances are of not getting Lyme disease. Shower or take a bath once you come in from the outside. Ticks often crawl or climb to areas of our body using our clothing. Be sure to wash and dry your clothing on a high-heat temperature.
HOW IS LYME DISEASE TREATED? There are several antibiotics that can be taken by mouth, or in more severe cases, through an intravenous line. Most people respond well to treatment. There are, however, some people who experience reoccurring symptoms. These cases may require additional courses of antibiotics.
I AM PREGNANT AND WORRIED ABOUT LYME DISEASE. WHAT SHOULD I DO? If you are feeling any of the symptoms listed above, contact your obstetrician immediately. No life-threatening effects have been found in cases where the mother received appropriate treatment. Your obstetrician will use antibiotics that are non-harmful to your baby. If breastfeeding, you can continue as there have been no reports of Lyme disease being transmitted through breast milk.
IS THERE A VACCINE FOR LYME DISEASE? While there was one in the past, currently there is not a vaccine available.
HOW DO I PROTECT MY PETS? Talk with your Veterinarian about tick control products that you can use on your pets to protect them from becoming infected with Lyme disease.