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Lyme Disease Awareness Month: Here's How To Prevent It

May 09, 2018 09:32 AM EDT
Every year, 300,000 people get afflicted with Lyme disease in the United States. The summer months are especially notorious for this disease, so it's important to be aware of its prevention, symptoms, and treatment.
(Photo : Bertrand Guay | AFP/Getty Images)

Lyme Disease Awareness Month is underway this May, so there's no better time to get educated on the common and often misdiagnosed disease.

May is an important time to get more acquainted with this ailment, as there's often a spike in Lyme disease patients during the summer months.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 300,000 Lyme disease infections occur in the United States every year. If left untreated, this infection can spread to the heart, joints, and the nervous system.

People who are constantly outdoors especially in the woods or grassy areas are constantly exposed to the black-legged ticks that transmit Lyme disease to humans. Certain regions in the country are also considered high-risk places for this ailment including New England, mid-Atlantic states, and the upper Midwest.

Avoiding Ticks, Lyme Disease

Humans can get Lyme disease through bites from a black-legged tick. Therefore, the key to prevention is avoiding this type of ticks.

When spending time in wooded and grassy areas, it's smart to walk in the middle of trails to better avoid ticks. Long clothing covering the skin can also help, and individuals are recommended not to walk through bushes as the crawly creatures may be lying in wait in the flora.

Tick repellants are also available, such as products with permethrin.

When living or visiting a high-risk area, it's important to conduct daily tick checks on the body, clothes, and pets. Using a mirror can make the search more thorough.

A tick attached to the skin for less than 24 hours is much less likely to pass on the disease, so it's very important to detect and remove all signs of the parasite. Remove ticks using a fine-tipped tweezer carefully, then clean the infected area with alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water, according to a report from Yahoo. Toss all clothes into the dryer on high heat.

For pets, limiting their access to tick-infested places is crucial. Vets can also provide tick prevention products.

Symptoms, Treatment For Disease

Patients can recover more quickly when the disease is caught early, so being aware of the symptoms is a great advantage.

Some symptoms include fever, rash, facial paralysis, and arthritis. A distinct rash known as erythema migrans is also seen in up to 80 percent of infected people. It starts at the bite area and can expand to reach up to 12 inches. It can take on a bull's eye appearance.

When untreated, Lyme disease can result in severe headaches, more rashes, facial palsy, heart palpitations, dizziness, brain and spinal inflammation, and short-term memory issues, among others.

Treatment includes antibiotics, which usually leads to a full recovery.

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