This is a good year for ticks; they are thriving. So as we move into warm weather, we need to be more aware of lyme disease. Lyme disease is an infection caused by the borrelia burgdorferi, a bacterium known as a spirochete, which is transmitted to people and animals through tick bites.
Symptoms can include a rash, fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle or joint pain and swollen lymph nodes. Doctors diagnose lyme disease through blood tests, and it can be treated with several weeks of antibiotics taken by mouth. It is important to diagnose lyme disease early and treat it with the correct antibiotics so that patients recover quickly and completely. If left untreated, lyme disease can affect the heart, joints and nervous system, causing heart failure, meningitis, arthritis and chronic joint pain.
But don't fret, you can reduce your risk of lyme disease by taking a few simple precautions. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should [paraphrased]:
1. Wear long pants and sleeves when walking in wooded and grassy areas. Tuck shirts and pant-legs in, and cover exposed skin. Even wear boots and gloves.
2. Stick to trails and avoid walking through low bushes and tall grass. Keep dogs on a lease.
3. Use insect repellents with a 10% to 30% concentration of DEET; the strength depends on how long you stay out. The benefit of preventing lyme disease is greater than not using DEET, which can be toxic. A 10% concentration of DEET will protect you for 2 hours. Always follow label directions carefully. And I'd shower it off afterwards.
4. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, lemon eucalyptus, a natual product, offers the same protection as DEET when used in the same concentration. Neither should be used on children younger than 3 years old.
5. Tick-proof your yard by clearing bush and leaves where ticks live. Keep wood and leaf piles in the sun before bagging them up for disposal.
|Someone braver than me.|
6. Check yourself, your children and pets for ticks vigilantly. Ticks are the size of a pin head and can easily be missed. Showering will wash off ticks, not attached to your skin.
7. Remove a tick imbedded into the skin carefully by its head. Don't crush or squeeze it. The bacterium could get into your wound. When the entire tick is removed, apply antiseptic to the bite.
8. Don't think you are immune to lyme disease once you've had it. You can get it again.
I don't know about you, but just thinking about tick bites makes me itch. And yet, I'll be more alert this summer while enjoying the great outdoors.
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