Thursday, July 30, 2009

Protect Yourself From Lyme Disease

Spring and summer bring warm temperatures, just right for walking in the woods and other outdoor activities. This can mean the risk of tick bites and Lyme disease. In fact, Montgomery County saw more than 300 new cases of Lyme disease in 2007, and if attendance at a recent meeting on the subject is any indication, County residents take the risks seriously. Fortunately, when Lyme disease is detected early, it is usually mild and easily treatable.

You should see a doctor if you experience the symptoms of Lyme disease, including headache, fever, muscle and joint aches and general fatigue. In particular, look for the circular or oblong rash at the site of the bite. Up to 90 percent of people bitten by infected ticks develop a rash, which can grow from two to three inches in diameter to as much as 20 inches. As it gets bigger, the center of the rash clears giving it a bull's eye appearance. If left untreated, Lyme disease can affect the joints, nervous system or heart.

To prevent Lyme disease, avoid contact with blacklegged ticks (formerly called deer ticks) which carry the bacteria and can pass it to humans by a bite. Lyme disease can be transmitted at any stage of the tick's life cycle, even during the larva and nymph stages when ticks can be smaller than a pinhead.

To learn more about preventing Lyme disease, including the best way to remove a tick, visit the County's Health and Human Services Web site.

No comments: