How to Avoid Lyme Disease This Season

Lyme disease, communicated by an infected deer tick, is the most commonly reported “vector-borne” [i.e. passed from a non-human organism to people) illness in the country. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), infections occur most frequently in the months of May through October. But despite the huge amount of publicity Lyme disease gets, there are still many people who are misinformed about it.

The Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a national non-profit committed to making Lyme disease easy to diagnose and simple to cure,lists these misunderstandings:

Lyme exists only in the Northeast.  The truth is that it has been reported across the country, although it is most common in the Northeast and the Upper Midwest

Lyme is easy to diagnose because of the tell-tale bulls-eye rash.  The foundation says that fewer than half of people diagnosed with Lyme disease have that bull’s-eye rash.  Actually, less than half of those diagnosed with Lyme ever get the bulls-eye.  And, current diagnostics miss up to 60% of cases.

Antibiotics cure everyone.   In reality, approximately 20% of patience continue to exhibit symptoms after antibiotic treatment.

How can you avoid catching it? The foundation says you should follow some simple but effective strategieis:

Walk in the middle of trails and avoid sitting on logs or leaning on trees

Wear a hat and tuck in your hair

Wear long-sleeved shirts that are fitted at the wrist

It’s best to wear hiking boots and long pants tucked into knee-high socks.

Wear light-colored clothes. It’s easier to see ticks

Conduct thorough tick checks routinely after every outdoor activity. Check your children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist and especially in the hair

Check again in three days. If you’ve missed any ticks the first time around and they’ve had a chance to feed on you, they will be bigger and easier to spot

Check your pets

Check camping gear, coats and backpacks. Ticks often come into the house on a ride. Check coats and daypacks

After playing or hiking in tick-infested areas, put your clothes in a hot dryer for one hour, and take a shower (showers can wash away hard to spot ticks that have not yet become engorged)

For more information, visit the Bay Area Lyme Foundation’s website (click here) and the CDC website; click here.

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