WHAT IS IT?
Lyme disease is a bacterial disease transmitted to people by ticks. The bacterium species is Borrelia burgdorferi. The Black-legged Tick (Ixodes scapularis) is a vector for Lyme disease. This tick is also known as the deer tick. A tick bite is usually painless and many people who develop Lyme disease do not remember being bitten.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
- Muscle/Joint Aches
- Swollen Lymph nodes
- Stiff Neck
- Erythema Migrans (EM) Rash/Bullseye
- Shortness of breath
- Short-term memory problems
- Speech Problems
These symptoms usually occur within 3 to 30 days after the tick bite. Late stage symptoms usually occur within days to months after the tick bite.
HOW CAN I PREVENT CONTRACTING THIS DISEASE?
Patients treated with doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil early usually recover completely. The antibiotics are usually taken for 14 to 21 days. The longer a tick is attached to the human host, the more likely it is to transmit a pathogen. The tick needs to be attached for at least 24 hours to cause Lyme disease. Removing a tick improperly can also play an important role in contracting a tick-borne illness. To remove a tick:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
- Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
Not all ticks carry diseases, but see your doctor if you develop any symptoms within 30 days of a tick bite.
The best way to prevent disease is to prevent tick bites.
- Avoid dense woods and brushy areas.
- Use insect repellents that contain 20 to 30% N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET).
- Use permethrin on clothing.
- Wear long pants and socks.
Check physically for ticks after outdoor activity.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
For more information about immunizations, visit our Immunizations page