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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lyme Disease/Tick Bites

Since summer is in full swing and people are out enjoying the great outdoors, I thought I'd share some information on Lyme disease, a very common tickborne disease.

There are a number of tickborne diseases but I am going to cover Lyme disease in this post, since it is the most familiar and one that can be difficult to diagnosis since the symptoms are similar to other illnesses.

Lyme disease is spread through the bite of the deer tick. Both nymphs (immature ticks) and adult deer ticks can spread the disease. The deer population has been increasing in the Northeast United States and more housing developments in rural parts of the country where deer ticks are common, have lead to the spread of Lyme disease.


The first symptom of Lyme disease is usually Erythema migrans, a rash that starts as a small red spot at the site of the tick bite. The spot then grows bigger over a period of days or weeks and eventually forms a circle or oval.

As the disease spreads, the rash can spread to other parts of the body.

Other symptoms of Lyme disease include:

Other symptoms include:
- Fever
- Headache
- Stiff neck
- Body aches
- Tiredness

If the disease is not treated with antibiotics, arthritis may develop in the joint, most commonly the knee.

Lyme disease can also affect the nervous system. Here are some symptoms of the neurological effects:

- Stiff neck and severe headache (meningitis)
- Temporary paralysis of your facial muscles (Bell’s palsy)
- Numbness, pain, or weakness in your limbs
- Poor muscle movement

Lyme disease can also cause more subtle changes such as :

- Memory loss
- Difficulty with concentration
- Change in mood or sleep habits

If you think you may have Lyme disease, tell your health care provider so they can make a definitive diagnosis.

Antibiotics are used to effectively treat Lyme disease.

For more information on Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases, including detailed information on diagnosis and treatment, check out the booklet Tickborne Diseases from the National Institute on Allergy and Infectious diseases.

Here are some helpful tips to avoid tick bites:

- Use a chemical repellent with DEET, permethrin or picaridin
- Wear light-colored protective clothing
- Tuck pant legs into socks
- Avoid tick-infested areas
- Check yourself, your children and your pets daily for ticks and carefully remove any ticks you find

1 comment:

  1. Very good info on this subject Margie. My sis-in-law was mis-diagnosed after being bit by a tick. Although in time, (2 years later) her Dr. determined she does have Lyme disease. But, sadly it was left untreated in that time, and caused her much pain, physically and emotionally. She is doing much better now, but it was a rough road for her and her family during that time.