Protecting Yourself from Lyme Disease

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  • Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by the bite of a tick. In the U.S., the bacterium responsible for Lyme disease is Borrelia burgdorferi.

    Infected ticks typically pick up the bacterium after biting an infected animal, such as a deer, raccoon, or squirrel.

    When an infected tick then bites a person, Lyme disease can take hold.

  • Lyme disease was first recognized in the 1970s after several children were diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in Lyme, Conn., and several neighboring towns.

    Infected individuals experienced a rash followed by arthritis symptoms, and many of the children reported having had a tick bite. The symptoms mostly started in the summer months, which coincided with tick season.

    Investigations eventually uncovered that deer ticks were responsible for transmitting Lyme disease.

  • Lyme disease is much more prevalent in the Northeastern U.S. and Midwest, but every state has had reported cases.

    The number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease rose from approximately 11,500 cases in 1995 to approximately 25,000 cases in 2014 nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).1

    In 2014, 95% of all cases were reported from 14 states, all in the Eastern U.S. and Midwest.

  • A small red bump at the site of a tick bite is normal, and generally resolves within a few days. However, watch out for the following signs and symptoms. which are indications of Lyme disease:

    Early Signs

    Rash: 3-30 days after tick bite, may have a bulls eye pattern

    Flu-like symptoms: Including fever, chills, and body aches

    Later Signs

    Joint pain: Bouts of severe pain, especially in the knees

    Numbness/weakness in limbs or impaired muscle movement: Could indicate inflammation in the brain

  • The biggest risk factor for contracting Lyme disease is spending time in woody or grassy areas, especially in areas where deer ticks are prevalent (Northeastern U.S. and Midwest).

    Additional risk factors are:

    Having exposed skin.

    Not removing ticks promptly and properly. If you find a tick on you, remove it immediately.

  • The easiest way for a doctor to diagnose Lyme disease is by seeing the distinctive bulls eye rash.

    For people who are showing later symptoms of the disease, there are several tests doctors can perform to measure antibodies against Lyme disease.

    The presence of antibodies doesnt necessarily indicate an infection with the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, however. A doctor will assess what additional tests may need to be performed.

  • Antibiotics are the traditional western approach to treating the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

    But taking antibiotics presents risks. Side effects can be severe and/or long-lasting, including nausea, vomiting, rashes, allergic reactions, vaginal yeast infections, and damage to helpful gut bacteria.

    Herbal and homeopathic remedies are a much safer alternative and can provide relief from the symptoms of Lyme disease.

  • Lyme disease can be debilitating and long-lasting. Learn how to protect yourself and your family from Lyme disease, according to the CDC:2

    Use a repellant like DEET when outdoors.

    Perform daily tick checks.

    Remove ticks promptly and properly.

    Discourage deer (which carry ticks) from entering your yard.

    Pay attention to possible symptoms, including a fever or rash, especially after a tick bite.

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