How to Reduce Your Lyme Disease Risk

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Limit exposure to ticks.Lyme disease is the major tick-borne illness in the US, Asia, and Europe.,
Wear protective clothing when going into wooded areas.,
Use tick repellents.,
Sterilize all clothing and gear after being in areas that might contain ticks.,
Do a full body check for ticks.,
Talk to your veterinarian about using tick-preventive treatments on your pet.,
Check your pets for ticks.,
Remove ticks quickly.,
Keep your yard trimmed and tidy.The goal is to limit the amount of places ticks can thrive.,
Design your yard to limit ticks.,
Spray for ticks if you are in an area that has a large problem with them.,
Don’t panic if you find a tick on a person or pet.,
Remove the tick.,
Clean up.,
Keep an eye on the bite for the next month.,
Screen yourself, your family, and your pets for the symptoms of early Lyme disease.,
Keep a look out for the secondary symptoms of Lyme disease.,
Discuss with your doctor whether you might have chronic Lyme disease if you experience the symptoms.,
Get diagnosed with Lyme disease.,
Get treated for Lyme disease.

In the US it is mostly in the northeast and Midwest, though it appears to be spreading along the Pacific Northwest coast. Be sure to protect yourself from ticks if you are in an area that is known to have ticks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a map showing where active Lyme disease cases have been reported. You can see it here: http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/maps.html

Be especially cautious of ticks in the summer. Ticks are most active in the warmer months (April to September).;
, Avoid areas that are wooded or brushy unless wearing protective clothing. If you are in wooded or brushy areas, walk in the center of the trail. Some ways to protect yourself with clothing include:

Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave so you can see ticks on them.
Wear shoes that cover your entire foot, long pants, and a shirt with long sleeves.
Tuck your pant legs into your shoes or boots.
Keep long hair tied back.

, Tick repellents should contain 20 – 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) and should be used on all exposed skin and clothing. Always follow product instructions.

Make certain an adult applies the DEET on children, avoiding their hands, eyes, and mouth.
Treat all clothing, boots, backpacks, and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Keep this gear separate from untreated clothing and gear. The permethrin stays on the clothing through several washings.

, After coming inside, remove and wash all clothing and washable gear. Dry clothing on high heat to kill ticks.

Bathe or shower as soon as possible. Use plenty of soap and water to wash off.

, It is important to check under the arms, between the legs, behind the knees, around the waist, your pubic area, on the scalp, inside your belly button and in and around the ears for ticks. Have someone look at the areas of your body that you can’t see. Remember, ticks are very small, so you may want to use a lighted magnifying glass.

Check your children thoroughly. Children between the ages of five and 14 appear to be at highest risk of Lyme disease, followed by adults, aged 45 – 54 years.Also check any non-washable gear for ticks
These ticks can be very easy to miss. They can be roughly the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

, Ask your veterinarian about any tick-borne diseases that are common in your area. Both dogs and cats, as well as any other furry pets you have, should have regular treatment for ticks. These tick treatments may include:

Products which kill ticks: these can include dusts, collars, sprays or topical treatments to apply or use directly on the animal. These include Fipronil and Amitraz.
Tick repellents: these help prevent the ticks from landing but don’t actually kill the ticks. The most common type of tick repellents are Pyrethroids, including permethrin.
Most dogs and cats are recommend to be on monthly prophylactic medications for both heart worm and ticks.

, Check all your pets every day for ticks daily, especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors. Dogs particularly need to be checked for ticks. Dogs themselves can get tick-borne diseases and they can bring the ticks into contact with you., If you find a tick on your dog, remove it right away. If you are uncomfortable with this procedure, you can ask your vet to remove it.

, Keep grass mowed, leaves raked, and brush cleared.

If you use firewood, stack it neatly and in a dry area.

, Put in a three-foot-wide barrier between lawns and wooded areas. The barrier should be made of wood chips or gravel. Also make sure there is a nine-foot-wide barrier of lawn between the wood chip or gravel barrier and any area where people sit or play. This includes patios, gardens, and play areas.

Play areas should be in a sunny location. Ticks don’t like sunny areas.

, If you live in an area where Lyme disease is common, check with a professional pesticide company to see if your property can be effectively treated with tick pesticides. These pesticides are also known as acaricides.

, If you find a tick attached to your or anyone else’s skin, first of all, do not panic! Not all ticks are infected, and you can greatly reduce your risk of Lyme disease if you remove the tick within the first 24 – 36 hours.

, Grab the tick by the head using a pair of pointed tweezers. The head is the part attached to the skin. Pull firmly and steadily directly outward. Don’t jerk or twist the tick.

Do not grab the tick by the body. If you do you may just detach the body from the head, leaving the head attached. If you leave the head attached to your skin, you may still get infected.

, Place the tick in a small container of rubbing alcohol to kill it. Clean the bite wound with rubbing alcohol or with 3% hydrogen peroxide. Also clean the tweezers you used to remove the tick.

, You are watching to see if a “bull’s eye” rash develops. If you develop the rash, or flu-like symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately.

If you live in an area where Lyme disease is common and you think that the tick may have been feeding off you for more than 24 hours, call your physician to tell them about the tick bite.
The Infectious Disease Society of America recommends preventative antibiotic treatment with doxycycline (one dose) for anyone who meets the following criteria:The attached tick is identified as an adult or nymphal I. scapularis tick (deer tick).
The tick is estimated to have been attached for over 36 hours (this can be determined the degree of engorgement or time of exposure).
The local rate of infection of ticks with B. burgdorferi (Lyme disease) is greater than 20 percent (these rates of infection have been shown to occur in parts of New England, parts of the mid-Atlantic States, and parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin).

, In general, Lyme disease occurs in three phases, with a possible fourth. If you have been bitten by a tick recently, or you just live in a tick-infested area, keep on a lookout for these symptoms.The first stage usually occurs within days or weeks of the tick bite. These symptoms can be very mild, so they can be easily missed. These include:

Fever
Aches
Headache
Fatigue
Muscle and joint aches
Swollen lymph nodes
Erythema migrans (EM): this is a rash that resembles a target or “bull’s eye.” This rash occurs in about 70 – 80% of infected people. The center of the target is the site of the tick bite and can appear anywhere on the body. The center may be red and surrounded by a clear area. The clear area is then surrounded by the circular, moving or migrating rash.

, These symptoms can show up weeks or months after the first, if the first stage has not been found and treated. The second stage involves nervous system and heart problems. Symptoms include:

Severe headaches
EM skin rashes
Arthritic joint pains
Muscle and tendon pains
Heart palpitations and irregular heart beats (Lyme carditis)
Problems with short-term memory
Facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy)

, There is a stage of Lyme disease that is estimated to occur in about 10% of all patients. It is often referred to as “post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome,” PTLDS, or chronic Lyme disease. Symptoms include fatigue and joint and muscle pain. These symptoms can last for six or more months after treatment with antibiotics, which is the currently recommended treatment for Lyme disease.

There is some controversy about this stage. The controversy is not whether or not the stage exists, but what is the exact cause. It may not be from persistence of the Borrelia bug in the person despite treatment. It is thought to be from some other immunologic consequence, but it is not yet understood what the mechanism is exactly.

, If your symptoms indicate Lyme disease and you are in an area where Lyme disease is prevalent, your doctor should test you for the disease. The CDC suggests that labs use a two-step blood testing procedure for Lyme disease. Your doctor should send your blood to a lab to get this testing., If Lyme disease is diagnosed, a course of treatment with antibiotics is started. These antibiotics may be doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil. They are usually given orally, though intravenous treatment may be needed in some cases.

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