Summer Safe: Getting ready for Lyme disease

Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather. But the summer is also when there are the most ticks. Ticks are tiny insects that bite people and animals for their blood. Many can carry diseases. One of these diseases is Lyme disease. Lyme disease can cause serious symptoms, but with a few simple steps it’s easy to stay safe.
Image credit // CDC;
James Gathany

Lyme disease is most common in the Northeast and Midwest, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but cases have been reported in almost every state. The best way to avoid getting sick is to avoid tick bites. Ticks like to live in moist, long grass, so keep your yard cut short. If you’re in the woods, stay in the center of trails and avoid bushy areas.

Wearing light-colored clothing when going outside can make ticks more visible. Be sure to use EPA-approved insect repellent with at least 20-30 percent DEET. After you’re outdoors, make sure and do a tick check and shower.

If you do get bit, you should remove the tick quickly. Find a pair of tweezers and grab the tick firmly as close to the skin as possible. Don’t grab the body, as it could tear off and leave some of the tick inside your skin. Begin pulling straight out. Don’t jerk or twist the tick. Once it’s out, wash the bite with plenty of soap and water. Tell your doctor about it. If you can, save the tick and have it tested for Lyme disease.  If a piece breaks off and stays inside you, have it removed as soon as possible.

Removing a tick
Lyme disease causes a lot of different symptoms. It sometimes starts with a red bull’s eye rash around the bite. Then, it can cause fatigue, joint swelling and flu-like symptoms. Without treatment, Lyme disease can cause joint and nerve problems. Fortunately, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics when caught early. But the longer it takes to find out you have it, the harder it is to treat.

Just because there are ticks outside doesn’t mean you should stay indoors. A few simple steps can keep you safe. Get outside and enjoy the summer!

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