Lyme disease is developed when a person is bitten by a tick carrying the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Early symptoms of Lyme disease are similar to those of the flu: headache, stiff neck, muscle aches and a temperature that develops a week or two after the bite. A circular “bulls eye” rash develops in 50 to 80 percent of people infected, but a rash may not appear for up to a month after the tick bite.
According to the CDC, in 2007, 27,444 cases of Lyme disease were reported in the U.S.
While most cases of Lyme disease are successfully treated with antibiotics, the web is full of reports of people who have suffered long lasting effects from the disease. Problems with arthritis, muscle and joint pain, inability to think clearly or fatigue sometimes have lasted for years. An emotional documentary, “Under our Skin,” recently debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival chronicling the struggle chronic Lyme patients face and is currently showing across the country to raise awareness of their plight. www.underourskin.com/
Lyme disease-carrying ticks are tiny, about the size of a poppy seed. They are not the watermelon seed-size “dog” ticks many of us have pulled out of Rover’s coat. Ticks live in moist, shady places such as under leaves, trees and grasses and when they sense the vibration of a host (us or our dog), they snag onto clothes and fur.
In the U.S., those living in the Northeast, the Pacific Northwest and northern Midwest states are most at risk. Areas heavily populated by deer have a higher incidence of Lyme disease. It is not practical to constantly spray ourselves with insecticide and hope that chemicals alone are going to protect us.
How to avoid Lyme tick bites:
1: Daily inspection of skin, in every nook and cranny is how to catch a tick before it sufficiently attaches. Ticks are less likely to cause infection if removed within the first 24 hours. Take a shower after being outside in a potentially infested area and scrutinize every inch of your body. Have someone else check your back. Make sure to put the clothes worn into the dryer for 20 minutes so the heat will kill any remaining ticks.