Can you hit the bullseye?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can result from the bite of an infected blacklegged tick or deer tick. Infected ticks are found mainly in the Northeast, upper Midwest, and along the Northwest coast. Ticks can be found throughout the year, but their peak activity occurs during June, July, and August when it is warm and moist.
Early symptoms of Lyme disease are usually mild and therefore easily missed. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and the characteristic bullseye skin rash called “erythema migrans.” Tick bites that do not result in symptoms do not require treatment. Early treatment with antibiotics almost always results in a complete cure.
What you can do:
If Lyme disease is suspected, ask patients detailed questions about their medical history and if they have spent time outdoors where Lyme disease is common. Patients should also be examined. Lab tests may be needed to help confirm the diagnosis of this disease. However, these tests are most accurate a few weeks after the patient is infected with Lyme disease because their bodies have had time to develop antibodies.
Always advise patients to prevent tick bites by:
- Staying on cleared, well-traveled paths when outdoors
- Wearing light colored clothing
- Wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants in wooded or grassy area
- Tucking pants into socks
- Spraying repellent only when outdoors—Follow the directions on the spray container
- Checking clothes and uncovered skin frequently when outdoors
- Bathing or showering within two hours of coming indoors to wash off and more easily find ticks
- Checking their gear and pets for ticks
- Tumbling clothes in a hot dryer for one hour to kill remaining ticks
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