Lyme disease

What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is an infection caused by bacteria. The disease is carried by deer ticks and western black-legged ticks. These ticks are about the size of a sesame seed.

Where does Lyme disease occur?
It is most common in rural and suburban areas in the Northeastern and Midwestern states (http://www.aldf.com/usmap.shtml for map.) It is also found in other parts of the United States, as well as in Europe, Asia, and Australia.

How does Lyme disease spread?
Ticks can spread the disease to animals and humans through tick bites.

Initial signs and symptoms:

  • Rash can appear 3 to 30 days after tick bite, usually starts at the site of the tick bite
  • -begins as a small red spot and grows larger
    -center may fade and create a bull’s eye or ring appearance
    -some people may have many red spots
    -rash may burn, hurt or itch, or you may not feel it
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle ache
  • Joint pain

Early lyme disease can spread to the heart or nervous system. The person may feel an irregular or slow heart beat if spread to the heart. The face may droop if the disease spreads to the nervous system.

Later symptoms of Lyme disease:

  • If left untreated it can spread to other parts of the body.
  • Arthritis (painful swollen joints) most commonly affects large joints such as the knee
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Loss of memory
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling and numbness in the arms and legs

If left untreated it can spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment:
It is treated with antibiotics. In most cases 14 to 30 days of treatment with an antibiotic kills the bacteria. It is important to take all of the medication prescribed.

Prevention:

  • The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites
  • Wear light colored clothing with a tight weave
  • Always wear enclosed shoes
  • Wear long pants tucked in the socks and long sleeved shirts tucked into pants
  • Use an environmental protection agency (EPA) approved tick repellant
  • Keep long hair pulled back
  • Avoid sitting directly on the ground
  • Stay on cleared, well-worn trails when possible
  • Spot-check yourself and others frequently for ticks on clothes
  • Remove clothes after leaving tick-infected areas
  • Conduct a full-body check of yourself, your children, and any outdoor pets from head to toe before going to bed each night
  • Be sure to check the scalp, behind the head and neck, in the ears, and behind any joints

Useful links:

For further information on how to prevent tick bites and proper removal of ticks:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/ticktips2005/
For further information about Lyme Disease:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/lyme/index.htm
For further information about insect repellents:
http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/mosquitoes/insectrp.htm

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