Lyme disease is an infection that is caused by being bitten by an infected tick. According to the CDC, in the United States alone, 476,000 cases are diagnosed each year.
If you spend any time outdoors, especially in wooded or grassy areas, you could be at risk. And for those who own pets, you are also at risk, since dogs can carry ticks, which may jump off of your pet and onto you. Typically, upon infection, a bulls-eye will begin to develop around the bite.
As the infection spreads, it can cause nerve pain, arthritis, and even heart problems. If discovered early on, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics.
During the warmest months of the year is when Lyme disease is the most threat, so the spring through fall is the time to be careful. For ticks that carry Lyme disease, upon biting you, you become infected with the borrelia bacteria, which causes the infection. According to the CDC, the areas of the U.S. most at risk are Northern California, Oregon, Washington, New England, the mid-Atlantic states, and the upper midwest.
Lyme disease is carried by deer ticks, which can be as tiny as a poppy seed, which can make it much harder to detect them and just as hard to see that you’ve been bitten. If you’d like to protect yourself, your best course of action is going to be to prevent the bite altogether. Here are some helpful tips to help you prevent a Lyme disease infection.
1. Cover up.
If you plan to be outdoors in wooded or grassy areas, make sure you wear good shoes with your pants tucked in, and a long-sleeved shirt, a hat, and gloves. Stick to trails when hiking, and avoid wading through bushes.
2. Use insect repellent.
Another good tip is to use an insect repellent with a 20% or higher concentration of DEET on your skin. Parents need to reapply the repellent often on their kids, but avoid the hands and the mouth.
3. Tick-proof your yard.
In your yard, it’s important to tick proof, which may include mowing your yard or even spraying for ticks.
4. Check yourself, your family, and your pets.
And when your family has been outdoors, especially in wooded or grassy areas, check them for ticks. It might sound obvious, but a lot of people forget to check. If you find one, remove it properly, as I explain below.
5. Correctly remove ticks.
When removing ticks, use tweezers and do NOT crush or squeeze the tick. Instead, carefully and steadily pull them out. Then dispose of it by flushing it down the toilet or placing it in alcohol.
6. Look out for symptoms.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the symptoms. So, look for a bulls-eye developing around the bite, for any pain around the area, or even a fever developing shortly after being bitten.