How to Protect the Family from Ticks & Lyme Disease

Bug bites can be annoying but beyond that, they can also be dangerous. There are many different diseases caused by parasites, bacteria, and viruses transmitted through the bites of ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas.

Sadly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recently found that these diseases are becoming more common.

 

Tick-borne Diseases a Particular Problem

Tick-borne diseases are among the most common of the insect-borne diseases.

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness you should know about. It is the most common tick-borne disease in the United States. Deer ticks carry the illness and are quite common in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Deer ticks thrive in heavily wooded and grassy areas.

Bacteria from a tick enters the bloodstream if the tick stays attached to your skin for 36 hours or longer. If you remove a tick within 24 hours, your risk of acquiring Lyme disease is low. Your risk of developing Lyme disease goes up the longer the tick is attached to your skin.

Lyme disease that goes untreated can cause complications. These include arthritis, heart problems, and neurological problems. If you have concerns about this, visit with your health care provider.

 

Prevention of Lyme Disease

You can reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease by following these simple precautions.

  • Wear long pants and sleeves in heavily wooded and grassy areas.
  • Apply insect repellent with a 10-30% concentration of DEET to your skin and clothing before going outdoors.
  • Make it practice to check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks. Ticks like warm and moist areas on the body. A good way to check yourself for ticks is to take a shower soon after you’re back indoors.
  • Tick-proof your yard by clearing brush and leaves. Keep your grass short. If you have woods or tall grasses just outside of your lawn, create a 3-foot-wide “moat” of wood mulch at the edge of your yard to deter ticks from coming into your yard. If the moat is clean, dry and sometimes hot, the ticks will be less likely to cross it.

 

If you find a tick on you, remove the tick with tweezers. Gently grasp the tick by the head or mouth and pull carefully and steadily straight out. Your doctor might recommend taking a dose of antibiotic as prevention of Lyme disease after a bite from a deer tick. You can contact your physician’s office to ask about this if you have a concern.

 

Lyme Disease Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease differ among individuals. Since the disease affects a variety of body parts, not everyone will display all of the symptoms.

 

  • Rash: A small, red bump may appear within a few days to a month, often at the site of the tick bite. The bump may be warm and tender to the touch. It typically resembles a bull’s eye with a red ring surrounding a clear area and a red center. However, this ring may not appear on some people.
  • Flu-like symptoms: Fever, chills, fatigue, body aches and headache may accompany the rash.
  • Migratory joint pain: If the infection is not treated, you may develop bouts of severe joint pain and swelling several weeks to months after being infected.
  • Neurological problems: In some cases, weeks or months after infection these issues may appear: headache, dizziness, neck pain/stiffness. You can also develop numbness, shooting pains or pins-and-needles sensation in the hands and feet. You can also develop loss of control of the muscles of the face which can make the face seem to droop. This can happen on either side of the face and even both sides of the face at the same time.
  • Less common signs and symptoms:irregular heartbeat, eye inflammation, liver inflammation and severe fatigue.

 

If you’ve noticed the signs of Lyme disease, seek medical attention, even if signs disappear. Symptoms may take weeks to fully progress.

If you’ve had Lyme disease before, don’t assume you’re immune. You can get the disease again.

To learn more, you can make an appointment with a clinician online. You can also go online to find a doctor whenever you need one.  

 

To see more helpful health and wellness news, visit the Aurora Health Care Facebook page!

Meet the Author

Britain A. O'Connor, MD is a family medicine physician at Aurora Health Care in Sturgeon Bay, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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