Lyme disease is a common tick-borne infection accounting for about 300,000 cases each year, but many people who are in the highest risk areas are not aware of the danger. Left untreated, Lyme disease can have long-term complications with muscle stiffness, joint aches, and abnormal nervous system function that persists well after the infection is treated. Therefore, you’ll want to remain aware of the risks of Lyme disease for the summer season when the infection is most frequently transmitted through tick bites.
Know the signs of Lyme disease
Diagnosing Lyme disease early is a challenge, because you may contract the infection without realizing a tick has bitten you. Aside from a bull’s eye shaped rash at the site of the bite, the earliest symptoms of Lyme disease are flu-like, so you might not think to seek medical attention. If you have been spending time outdoors in New England, the upper Midwest, or the Mid-Atlantic states, it may be best to see a doctor for flu symptoms so that Lyme disease can be caught early on. Treated soon enough, Lyme disease is easily cured with the right antibiotics.
Stay away from tick habitats
While it is helpful to know how to recognize Lyme disease, the best line of prevention is avoiding ticks that transmit the disease. Ticks prefer grassy, shaded, humid areas rich with leaf litter. Areas where there is a high deer population are most common for ticks, since deer are the insects’ primary source of food. If you do venture into wooded areas this summer, stick to designated paths and trails, which are clear of the clutter where ticks tend to hide. You can also protect yourself by tucking pants into boots or socks, wearing long sleeves, and using insect repellent containing DEET.
Perform tick checks
Ticks will stick around after they bite you, but if caught and removed from the skin within 24 hours, they are unlikely to transmit Lyme disease. That means checking for ticks daily can be a good line of protection from infection. When you or your children spend time in outdoor areas, check for ticks each day and remove any ticks with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers and keep an eye out for rash in the area. Drying your clothes and outdoor gear on high will effectively kill any ticks lingering on these items.
It’s easy to seek a professional opinion for possible Lyme disease symptoms with MeMD on your side this summer. With online doctor consultations available anytime, anywhere, you won’t have to go out of your way to stay healthy.