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Ticks/Lyme Disease

Health Q&A

Health Q&A

July 29, 2002|by Christine L. Moats

Lyme disease is carried by an infected deer tick. You have to be bitten by an infected deer tick to contract the disease. Not all people who are bitten by a deer tick are infected, but you should still take precautions in areas where deer ticks live: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.

Q:What are the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease?

A: Eighty percent of people bitten by an infected tick will get a rash. The rash will start as a small red bump and will appear in a few days up to several weeks after the bite. Over a period of days the rash will begin to expand into a large, blotchy area and appear red. Common areas where a tick bite occurs are in the groin, buttocks, underarm, waist, and navel area or behind the knee. The infected area may be warm to the touch and somewhat tender.

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Other symptoms include:

-- Flu-like symptoms

You may develop a fever, chills, fatigue, body aches or a headache within 30 days of being infected.

-- Joint Pain

You may experience sharp pains in any joint area that may last a few days, then disappear and reappear in another joint.

-- You may experience memory loss, difficulty sleeping, and changes in mood or sleep habits.

If you are having any of these symptoms, contact your physician.

Q:How can I decrease my chances of contracting Lyme disease?

A: When walking in wooded or grassy areas, always wear shoes, long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks. If possible, walk on trails to avoid walking through low bushes and long grass.

-- Wear light-colored clothing; ticks are easier to see.

-- Use insect repellants that are known to repel ticks such as Backwoods Cutter or Off! Deep Woods - these products contain diethyltoluamide or DEET. Use as directed.

-- Always check yourself, children and pets after being in a wooded or grassy area. Deer ticks are often very small; some the size of the head of a pin.

-- If you have been infected with Lyme disease before, you are not immune to reinfection. Always check yourself for ticks and follow the precautions.

-- Shower immediately upon returning from a wooded or grassy area. Ticks often attach to the skin after a few hours.

-- To remove a tick, use tweezers to gently grasp the tick near its head or mouth. Pull carefully and steadily without squeezing or crushing the tick. Once the tick is completely removed, apply antiseptic to the area.

- Source: www.mayoclinic.com

Christine L. Moats is wellness coordinator for Washington County Hospial

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