Saturday, May 7, 2016

May is National Lyme Disease Prevention Month

Lyme Disease Awareness Month is a campaign which promotes preventative measures which can be taken against Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is an acute inflammatory disease caused by the bite of a tick infected with the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi; Lyme disease is spread through the bite of ticks which carry Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium.
In the United States there are two main species of tick which carry and spread Lyme disease. The deer tick or black legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) spreads the disease in the north central and eastern parts of the United States.
The western black legged tick (Ixodes pacifus) spreads Lyme disease on the west (Pacific) coast. Both species of ticks are found in wooded areas. The life cycle of the Ixodes tick is complex.
There are two types of symptoms of Lyme Disease: first and late symptoms. First symptoms are usually flu-like and include fatigue, tiredness, joint and muscle pain, and also a characteristic rash. Late symptoms can take much longer to develop: weeks, months or even years. Late symptoms may include fatigue, mental health issues, the condition arthritis and chronic encephalomyeltits.
Chronic encephalomyeltits is a progressive condition (symptoms become worse or more widespread), and include back pain, bladder problems, vertigo and weakness in the legs. Late Lyme disease can also cause brain, joint, and heart infection.
The Need For This Awareness Month:
In the United States over the last few years, there has been a steady increase in the number of reported cases of Lyme disease. Lyme Disease Awareness Month educates both the young and old about Lyme Disease and how they can take steps to prevent it.
As both types of ticks which carry the Lyme disease virus live in wooded areas, people who visit these areas are encouraged to wear protective clothing around the ankles.
White or light clothing is recommended as it is easier to spot any ticks. Shirts and T-shirts should be tucked into your pants (trousers), and socks pulled up over the bottom of the pants. Using an insect repellent can also help prevent the ticks from getting on to you. Pets should also be checked. Before returning inside it is recommended to do a tick check first.
Tick Removal Lowers The Risk Of Lyme Disease:
Carrying a tick removal kit is advised as they can be used to effectively remove ticks from body reducing the risk of disease transmission. Often the disease is transmitted when a tick is not removed properly.  We carry these in the camp store.
The body breaks away with the head still buried in the skin; this causes the tick to regurgitate its contents into the person’s body.
'Do It Yourself' tick kits should include an insect repellant, a tick removal, an antiseptic and small vial. 
Using the removal tool, remove the tick with the tool, hooking the tick as close to the skin as possible. A gentle twisting action is recommended by the Lyme Disease Foundation to remove the tick, and all the tick’s mouth pieces as thoroughly as possible. By placing the tick in a vial with a blade of grass, the tick can be kept alive for testing.  Take it and seek immediate medical attention.  In tick prone areas, emergency room or urgent care centers may prescribe a 10 day dose of antibiotics as a preventive medicine without testing the tick. 
Remember, ticks can happen anywhere in the US.  You can get a tick from any outdoor activity like hunting, hiking, gardening, mowing, etc.  What you may not know is that you can also get Lyme disease from your pet, Christmas tree, picking strawberries. 
Make sure you know how to protect yourself and your family.  Buy and routinely wear tick repellent.  Practice good hygiene practices and bath or shower thoroughly after being outside, and checking yourself and family members for ticks.        

This article was reprinted from Lyme Disease Foundation Page.  You can get more information at: