Lyme Disease and what you need to know:
As tick season is fast approaching with warmer weather here is what you need to know about Lyme disease.
What is Lyme Disease?
Named for Old Lyme, Connecticut, where the first U.S. cases were recorded in 1975, Lyme disease is caused by Borellia spirochete bacteria. Borellia burgdorferi is the common North American agent. Lyme disease also occurs in Europe, Africa, Australia, and parts of Asia.
How is Lyme Disease Acquired?
In the U.S., the Borellia spirochete is transmitted through the bite of an infected “deer tick,” either Blacklegged Tick, Ixodes scapularis, or Western Blacklegged Tick, Ixodes pacificus. The bacterium requires birds, rodents, or insectivores like bats and shrews to complete its life cycle. Deer are incidental hosts, along with people.
Lyme disease presents a baffling array of symptoms, or none at all. Misdiagnosis is frequent, leading to severe illness later. Three stages of symptoms are possible:
- Three days to three weeks after a tick bite, an expanding “bull’s-eye” rash may ring the bite wound, but this can be absent. Aches, fatigue, chills, fever, headaches, and swollen lymph nodes can manifest.
- Weeks or months later, the rash may spread to other body parts. Severe headaches, inflammation of the brain or spine, abnormal heartbeat, Bell’s palsy, painful joint swelling, and depression may occur.
- In the long term, if untreated, Lyme disease results is arthritis of major joints. This may be misdiagnosed as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in children. Fatigue, numbness in arms and legs, and loss of memory are rare.
Prevention and Treatment
Avoid forest edges, tall grass, and thickets where ticks lurk. Tuck the cuffs of your pants into your socks; and long-sleeved shirts, pale in color so ticks can be seen easily. For repellents the CDC recommends using formulas that contain 20 percent or more DEET or Picaridin on exposed skin and products containing Permethrin on clothing. A great DEET repellent is Ben’s® 100 or 30 products which provide 8 to 10 hours of protection. Natrapel® 20% Picaridin is a good choice if you are looking for repellent you can use on your skin and gear. Natrapel® has the maximum about of Picaridin and provides up to 12 hours of protection from biting mosquitos and bugs. For a Permethrin repellent us Ben’s® Clothing and Gear. Ben’s® Clothing and Gear contains 0.5% Permethrin to kill biting insects on contact. Apply to your clothing and gear before your trip for an extra level of protection against mosquitoes. Don’t forget to inspect yourself and family members for ticks after being outdoors. Ticks often embed where you can’t see them, like behind the ears and knees, and the back of your neck. Remove embedded ticks with tweezers, and see your doctor. Early diagnosis, followed by treatment with appropriate oral antibiotics, usually results in full recovery of infected patients.