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The month of May signals the start of summer. As Lyme Disease Awareness Month, it also reminds us that we should be on guard to protect ourselves and our loved ones against this increasingly common bacterial infection. You can make good use of this month by learning more about Lyme disease and how it can impact your health and that of your family members. You can also learn what steps to take if you or someone you know suspect that you have Lyme disease.
Lyme disease, which infects more than 300,000 people in the U.S. per year, is caused by a type of bacteria known as Borrella. These bacteria are commonly carried by parasites like ticks and lice. Because deer ticks can carry Borrella bacteria, it is important to know what these insects look like and where they live. Deer ticks are commonly mistaken for common brown dog ticks because of their shape and size. Like dog ticks, deer ticks have eight legs and flattened bodies, making them very similar in appearance. Also like dog ticks, deer ticks are very small, about the size of a sesame seed. However, once they gorge on the blood of their host they become reddish-brown in color and grow significantly in size. Before they attach themselves, however, they are so small that their bites are often not initially noticeable to their hosts. Deer ticks live in wooded areas and can be found on every continent except for Antarctica. In reference to their name, they prefer to live in locations where they can come into contact with deer, their preferred host. They also can be found in urban areas, particularly in yards and parks that contain an abundance of trees or shrubs.
Lyme Disease Symptoms
Unfortunately, Lyme disease is often mistaken for other common ailments like the flu or the common cold. It causes symptoms that mimic other illnesses, in fact. Some of the more common symptoms that patients experience include:
- muscle and joint pain or stiffness
If you experience any of these symptoms after you have visited a wooded area where ticks could dwell, you should contact your doctor immediately. Early treatment is vital to ensuring your fast recovery. Lyme disease most often can be treated effectively by oral antibiotics like amoxicillin, doxycycline, or cefuroxime. People who have been diagnosed with cardiac or neurological conditions often respond the best to penicillin-based antibiotics. Despite early treatment, about 10 to 20 percent of all Lyme disease patients experience lingering or recurring symptoms of this infection. Doctors continue to study why some people have long-lasting symptoms and what medicines could best address this phenomenon.
Avoiding Deer Ticks and Lyme Disease
Because this disease can have such a dire impact on your health, you should learn how to protect yourself and your family. If you plan to visit a wooded area, you are advised to wear an insect repellent with DEET in it. You should spray not only your skin, but also your clothes and any gear like hats, sleeping bags, and tents that you bring with you. You also should check yourself and your pets daily for deer ticks. Ticks should be carefully removed with a pair of tweezers by pinching closest to their heads to remove them completely. Lyme disease infects thousands of people each year. You can be on guard against this bacterial infection by knowing its causes and symptoms, as well as what precautions to take to avoid deer ticks.
http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/treatment/ http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cdc-lyme-disease-rates-10-times-higher-than-previously-reported/ http://www.orkin.com/other/ticks/deer-ticks/ http://www.cdc.gov/features/lymedisease/