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Lyme Disease: What You Need to Know
How Lyme Disease is Spread
Lyme disease bacteria are spread through the bite of infected ticks. Ticks are usually found in wooded areas, but can also be carried by animals onto lawns and gardens and into houses by pets. Generally, ticks need to be attached for 36 to 48 hours before they can transmit Lyme disease bacteria.
At this time, there is no evidence that Lyme disease can be transmitted person-to-person through touching, kissing, or sexual intercourse.
Where Lyme Disease is Most Prevelant
Lyme disease is distributed over northern temperate regions of the world. In the United States, most infections occur in the following areas:
- Northeast (Virginia to Maine)
- North-central states (Wisconsin and Minnesota)
- West Coast (particularly northern California)
For Lyme disease to exist in area, three elements must be present in the natural environment:
- Animals that are infected with Lyme disease bacteria.
- Ticks that can transmit the bacteria.
- Animal hosts (mice and deer) that can provide food for the ticks.
How Lyme Disease Can be Prevented
Avoid or use caution in tick-infested places, such as wooded or grassy areas, especially during the months of May, June, and July. Using insect repellent is also recommended. Make sure it contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 in order for it to provide proper protection. It's a good idea to perform daily tick checks by inspecting all body surfaces carefully. You should also bathe or shower after being outside
If you have a tick, you can remove it using tweezers. Grasp the tick firmly and as close to the skin as possible, pull the tick's body away from the skin. Then clean the area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Try to avoid crushing the tick's body as you do not want to leave any parts of the tick inside you.
How Lyme Disease is Diagnosed
The most common symptom is a bullseye rash around the tick bite area. Other signs and symptoms include, fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle pains, and swollen lymph nodes. When you go to your doctor, blood test results will detect if you have antibodies to the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
How Lyme Disease is Treated
Lyme disease is treated with either oral or IV antibiotics and will be up to the discretion of your physician. If you have been bitten by a tick and think it may have been on you for over 36 hours, contact your doctor to see if you will need to go on antibiotics.
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