Lyme Disease

What is Lyme disease? Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium, it was first identified in the U.S. in a cluster of children in Lyme, Connecticut in 1977, hence the name. The bacteria are transmitted to humans by the bite of infected deer ticks.

Who can get Lyme disease? Lyme disease can affect people of any age. People who spend time in wooded or grassy area are at a greater risk of disease because of the increased exposure to ticks. Persons who engage in outdoor occupations or recreation may also be at risk of contracting Lyme disease.

When are ticks most active? Deer ticks are most active in the spring and summer and middle to late fall.

How is Lyme disease transmitted? Ticks feed by inserting their mouths into the skin of a hose and drawing blood. If a tick feeds on an animal infected with Lyme disease and then on a person, it can transmit the bacteria to the person. Lyme disease isn’t transmitted from person to person.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease? The illness generally starts as a large reddish rash around or near the site of the tick bite. During the rash stage symptoms such as chills, fever, headache, fatigue, stiff neck, swollen glands, and muscle and/or joint pain may be present. These symptoms may last for several weeks. If Lyme disease is left untreated for a few weeks or months after the rash onset complications such as meningitis, facial palsy, arthritis, and heart abnormalities may occur and other body systems may be affected. Swelling and pain in the large joints may recur over many years.

How long does it take for symptoms to appear? Symptoms usually begin within a month of exposure, but onset ranges from 3 to 32 days.

What is the treatment of Lyme disease? Antibiotics are used effectively against Lyme disease. Early diagnosis improves the outcome of treatment so it is important to contact your healthcare provider if you are feeling sick.

Lyme disease prevention

  • (1) Wear light colored clothing to make ticks easy to see.
  • (2) Consider using an insect repellent in wooded areas.
  • (3) Check after every two or three hours of outdoor activity for ticks on clothing or skin.
  • (4) A thorough check of body surfaces should be done at the end of the day.
  • (5) If a tick is attached to your skin for les than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small. To be safe monitor your health closely after a tick bites and be alert for any signs and symptoms of illness.

How should a tick be removed? Grasp the mouthparts with tweezers as close as possible to the attachment site (skin). Be careful not to squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick, which may contain infectious fluids. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the tick site with rubbing alcohol or an antibacterial wash. See or call a doctor if you have any concerns about incomplete tick removal. DO NOT attempt to remove ticks by using petroleum jelly, lit cigarettes, or other home remedies because they may actually increase the chance of contracting a tick-borne disease.