May is the annual Lyme Disease Awareness Month! This means that everyone has the opportunity to learn more about the harmful disease and what they can do to prevent ever catching it. Lyme Disease is a serious illness that can affect anyone and everyone you know. The more knowledgeable you are about it the more you are able to inform others about the risks it entails. Share this knowledge with those you know to keep them safe.
What is Lyme Disease?
Carried by black-legged or deer ticks, the disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Once the infected black-legged tick bites someone they become infected and begin to display a variety of symptoms. These flu-like symptoms, which can occur up to 30 days after being bitten, include fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash around the bite wound. If these symptoms progress or are left untreated, the disease can worsen and spread further throughout their body. Worsening symptoms can include a severe headache or neck stiffness, severe joint pain and swelling, loss of muscle tone one or both sides of the face, and shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet. Contact a medical professional if you know you were exposed to these ticks and are experiencing similar symptoms.
How can you prevent Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is can be prevented by avoiding all areas where these ticks may be present. Areas, where these ticks tend to reside, include wooded areas with bushes and tall grass. When traveling through these areas try and cover up as much as you can with pants, a hat, and closed toed shoes. Another prevention tip is to apply an insect repellant with a DEET concentration of over 20% to your skin while avoiding the eyes and mouth. This will discourage ticks as well as other potentially harmful insects from coming near you.
Trim or clear out the long grass and bushes in your yard that could be a potential home for those pesky ticks. This will help remove the threat of the ticks living and reproducing near your home and create a safe environment for you and your loved ones. Always check yourself for ticks after traveling through wooded areas to ensure that you are leaving tick free and encourage those you are with to do the same. If you do see a tick attached to you somewhere, remove the tick with tweezers by pulling from its head. Avoid squishing or using your fingers to remove the tick as this could do more harm than good. Once the tick has been removed, apply antiseptic to the affected area.
How can I celebrate Lyme Disease Awareness Month?
The best way to celebrate any awareness month is to spread its message. Share these tips about prevention with those around you to make sure everyone is aware and prepared for the upcoming season spent outdoors. Social media is a great tool to create a platform that broadcasts the dangers of Lyme Disease and what we can all be doing to stop it in its tracks. Encourage those around you to contact their healthcare provider if they are interested in learning more about the effects of Lyme Disease.