2017 Promises to be a record year for Lyme Disease, here’s what you need to know to be safe.
Changes in the environment and patterns of human population have created a paradise for mice in parts of the US. Their populations have exploded and with them the black legged ticks, which carry lyme disease. In some areas you are at risk for lyme disease just mowing your lawn. Those of us who pursue outdoor activities need to be especially vigilant. Lyme disease is nothing to mess with. It can cause serious life-altering side effects including heart damage.
The media has been full of sensational reports lately, but I’ve seen very little in the way of useful information, other than “check yourself for ticks.” Then I found this story from NPR titled,
“Did You Get Bit By A Lyme-Infested Tick? Here’s What To Do”
I recommend reading the entire article, but below is an excerpt; a five-part checklist for what to do when you think you may have been exposed to lyme disease. Look it over and be careful this summer, especially if you live in a highly affected area.
1. Don’t panic, says Dr. Brian Fallon, who directs the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research at Columbia University Medical Center.
2. Get out the tweezers. “Very carefully, go under the head of the tick with the tweezers and just pull out the mouth of the tick, which is embedded in the skin,” Fallon says.
“What you don’t want to do is squeeze the body of the tick,” he says. “That will cause the tick to spew all of its stomach contents into the skin, and you’ll be more likely acquire whatever infection that tick was carrying.”
Also, don’t put Vaseline or smoke from a cigarette or [a] match on it,” Fallon says. “Just use tweezers.”
3. Check the Lyme map. Next you want to figure out if you picked up the tick in an area where Lyme is a problem. The CDC tracks Lyme cases and has detailed statistics — at the county level — about where doctors report cases.
Another good place to check is the website of your state’s health department.
The goal is to figure out if Lyme is present in your community. If the answer is, no, then you can relax. The chance you have Lyme is very, very low.
If the answer is, yes, then you want to see how intense transmission is in your county. This information will come in handy down at No. 5.
4. Save that tick. If there’s a possibility you picked up the tick in an area where Lyme is common, Fallon says, you might want to hold onto the critter so a lab can test it for Lyme.
“Put the tick into a baggie,” he says. “The tick doesn’t even need to stay alive for a lab to see if it carried Lyme.”
You can also take a picture of the tick and send it to the TickEncounter Resource Center. Scientists there will help identify the tick and tell you the chance it could have Lyme.
5. Monitor your health. So now comes the big decision: Should you go see a doctor? That depends on two factors: your symptoms and your location.
Be on the look-out for any red rash, Fallon says. It doesn’t have to be shaped like a target or bull’s eye.
“In fact, 80 percent of the time, the rash with Lyme isn’t shaped like that. It’s just red and expanding.”
“If you do develop an expanding rash, a fever or flu-like symptoms, don’t wait. Go see a doctor,” Fallon says. The earlier you start taking antibiotics the more likely you will recover fully and not have any lingering problems.
And while some symptoms persist even when people get treated, “The good news with Lyme is the majority of people who get treatment early do very well,” he says.
If you don’t have any symptoms, you don’t necessarily need to see a doctor, Fallon says. Not all blacklegged ticks have Lyme disease. And after it starts biting you, it takes about 24 to 36 hours to transmit the pathogen into your blood. So if the tick wasn’t on your body very long, you’re proabably OK.
But if you live in a place with a high number of Lyme cases, you might want to check in with a doctor even if you don’t have symptoms, Fallon says, especially if you think the tick was on your body for a while.
“The Infectious Diseases Society of America recommends a one-day treatment of doxycycline, prophylactically,” Fallon says, “That’s believed to be protective, to some extent, from the disease.”Louis Cahill Gink & Gasoline www.ginkandgasoline.com email@example.com Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!