As the weather warms and we all start to head outside more and more, it's important to remember May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. While it isn't necessary to avoid the great outdoors, it's important to know what precautions to take to keep you and your friends and family safe.
About Lyme Disease
Humans and animals contract Lyme disease from deer ticks. The bacteria they carry is called Borrelia burgdorferi. The ticks latch onto the skin to feed on the blood of the animal or person and can then transfer the bacteria to them. These ticks are prevalent in grassy areas or heavily wooded areas, most commonly in the Midwest and east and west coasts of the United States.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms can be begin to appear within a month of infection. Some people may not see any symptoms for several weeks or months. The most recognizable symptom of Lyme disease is a bull's-eye shaped rash that appears around the initial site of the infection, which is typically a small, red bump. The rash is called erythema migrans and has a clearly visible red ring surrounding the bite. Those who develop the rash may also have symptoms similar to the flu
, such as a fever or the chills, a headache or body aches along with fatigue.
If the rash spreads throughout the body, patients may later experience joint pain and swelling or neurological symptoms such as inflammation
(meningitis) or Bell's palsy. Neurological symptoms can appear years later when the rash has cleared up. In more rare cases, patients may experience an irregular heartbeat, inflammation of the eyes or liver or extreme fatigue.
Treatment for Lyme Disease
Most people recover totally from Lyme disease, but starting treatment early is key. The most common treatment for Lyme disease is either oral or intravenal antibiotics. It's crucial to get checked if you've been in an area as previously described and exhibit any of these symptoms to check for a possible connection.
Experts also warn against diagnosing yourself as "cured." If you have any of the symptoms described above and they go away on their own, that doesn't mean the disease has left your system. It's still important to have an exam to determine if further treatment is needed to prevent future complications.
How to Protect Yourself
Prevention is always the key to health and Lyme disease is no different. Here are some things you can do to prevent yourself from contracting Lyme disease, courtesy of Lymedisease.org:
Cover exposed skin with clothing that is light in color and fitted at the ankles and wrists. Treat your clothes with permethrin.
Wear a hat and tuck in your hair.
Always wear regular shoes or hiking boots.
Buy bug spray and carry it with you to reapply. You can find formulas with DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) or more natural products.
Shower after spending time in an area where ticks are prevalent and check your body thoroughly. Check it again three days later.
Go to the doctor immediately if you experience symptoms.
When out on a trail, walk in the middle.
Don't sit on logs or lean on trees.
Make sure your pets are protected with bug spray and by washing after potential exposure.
If you find a tick on your body, it's not recommended you crush or squish the tick. Use tweezers to gently remove it. Either dispose of it or take it to your doctor if you want to be checked out.
sells a selection of bug sprays to provide additional protection, so check out our selection and enjoy the great outdoors this spring and summer without worry!