Lyme disease is a serious condition. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic “bull’s eye” skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
Fortunately, the cause of Lyme disease is known and the disease can be prevented. The most important step is to avoid deer ticks. Although generally only about one percent of all deer ticks are infected with the Lyme disease bacterium, in some areas more than half of them harbor the microbe.
Most people with Lyme disease become infected during the late spring, summer, and early fall when immature ticks are out looking for their meal.
Deer ticks are most often found in wooded areas and nearby grasslands, and are especially common where the two areas merge, including neighborhood yards where deer occasionally roam. Ticks don’t survive long on sunny lawns – they dry out quickly and die.
Don’t let Lyme disease interfere with your love of the outdoors. Here are some precautions you can take:
When spending time outdoors, use a repellent with 20% DEET. Also, clothing treated with permethrin kills ticks.
Check for ticks daily.
Check for ticks on you and your children. Ticks like to hide in folds of skin and in the hair. Having someone check your hair is better than trying to do this alone. It’s a good idea to check pets too.
Shower soon after being outdoors.
To help remove ticks, don’t delay taking a shower after being outdoors. Also, tumble clothes in a hot dryer to kill hidden ticks.
Call your doctor if you get a fever or rash.
A Lyme disease rash may appear within three to 30 days, followed by fever, muscle and joint pain, or fatigue. Patients treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely.