Lyme Disease and How to Keep it Away

by: Stacy Brown

What is Lyme Disease?

According to the CDC (Bureau of Communicable Disease Control), Lyme Disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks.This bacterium is often found in small animals such as mice and squirrels.The tick will bite a small animal and then transmit it to a human.The blacklegged tick can transmit several tick-borne diseases including Lyme Disease, a bacterial infection.Most cases of human illness occur in late spring and summer when the ticks are active and human outdoor activity is greatest.There is no evidence that humans can transmit Lyme Disease to another human by any sort of contact. Furthermore, there is no evidence that your pet can give you Lyme Disease either.

The first sign of Lyme Disease is usually a circular rash which is called erythema migrans or EM.This occurs at the site of the tick bite and can show up anywhere from 3-30 days after the infection. The rash may resemble a “bull’s eye”. This circular rash may grow over time.Other symptoms include fever, fatigue, chills, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes.Without treatment, the rash can spread to other parts of the body and cause more severe symptoms and pain, especially in large joints.Lyme Disease is treated with oral antibiotics, usually doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil.A few weeks of antibiotics will usually cure most infections of Lyme Disease. The FDA warns of a product called bismacine, or also known as chromacine.This product has not been approved by the FDA, is not a pharmaceutical, and does not treat Lyme Disease.This injectable product has been developed by druggists and prescribed by doctors of “alternative health”.Bismacine has not been proved to treat anything and has shown to be dangerous.

How to Keep it Away

There are several ways you can avoid becoming infected with Lyme Disease.Of course one way is to stay away from tick infested areas.Ticks prefer wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.If you have to be in these infested areas, try to avoid contact with the brush and overgrown grass.

There are several types of repellants that work in keeping ticks off of you.Effective repellants can usually be found at drug or grocery stores.Make sure to get one that has 20%-30% DEET.Spray repellant on exposed skin and clothing to prevent tick bites.Heavy application is not needed and do not spray on skin underneath clothing.With children, it is recommended that you spray the repellant on clothing rather than their skin.Another type of repellant is called Permethrin.Permethrin can be purchased at outdoor and camping stores.Permethrin kills ticks on contact!It is effective for two weeks or more if clothing is not laundered. Do NOT spray Permethrin directly on skin.Wash skin immediately if you get it on your skin.Only spray Permethrin on shoes, socks, and outer clothing before putting it on.It is recommended that you put the treated clothing outside to dry for approximately two hours before wearing it.When washing clothes treated with Permethrin, wash them separate from your other clothes.If you frequently go to places where there are ticks and you frequently use repellants, it is a good idea to designate certain clothing for this and only wear those clothes when going to tick inhabited areas.

Remember to wear protective clothing: light-colored, long sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into boots when protecting yourself from ticks.Also check yourself, your children, and your pets daily.Have fun outdoors but remember to be safe!

Fast Facts

  • Although adult ticks often feed on deer, deer do not become infected with Lyme Disease.However, deer can pass that tick on to you so be careful!
  • The Lyme Disease vaccine was discontinued in 2002 due to insufficient consumer demand.
  • If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme Disease is very small.
  • In 2006, there were 19, 931 cases of Lyme Disease reported to the CDC.

If you have any questions regarding Lyme Disease or other tick-borne disease, you may call the Bureau of Communicable Disease Control at 518-474-4568.