Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

Don’t Get Ticked Off By Lyme Disease

Summer is upon us and for many folks that means spending time outdoors,  hiking, camping, walking and exploring forests and wooded areas. It also means working and playing in your own backyard.Tick Warning

No matter where you live in the continental United States, you are at risk for the tick-borne illness known as Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Deer ticks harbor these bacteria and spread it when feeding on animals and humans. People in the Northeast, Midwest and Northwest are at highest risk, but these ticks can be found in any grassy or heavily wooded area — even your own backyard!

Signs and Symptoms

Most cases of Lyme disease start with a rash that looks like a bump, and then grows into something like a bull’s eye, as illustrated below. lime

This rash is called erythema migrans, and can start where the tick bite occurred. It happens in 70-80% of Lyme disease cases. Flu-like symptoms can also occur, such as fever, chills, fatigue, body aches and headache. The symptoms and pattern of Lyme disease can vary from person to person because the illness can affect many different body systems.

If you develop a rash and flu-like symptoms and feel that you may have contracted Lyme disease, you should seek medical attention. At this point in time, treatment is easy and can prevent the serious and sometimes severe complications of Lyme disease. Your doctor can fully evaluate and examine you for the illness. There is a blood test that can check to see if you have Lyme disease, but this test does take a few weeks after exposure to show a positive result.

If your doctor feels you have the early stages of Lyme disease, he or she will probably offer you a 10-14 day course of oral antibiotics to kill the bacteria and prevent complications. As the blood test can take some time before it becomes positive, oral antibiotics are recommended as a preventative.

If Not Treated…

What are the complications? It is amazing that a tick-borne illness can produce such serious issues. If not treated, severe joint pain can develop associated with swelling and redness. The knees are the most common joints affected, but the pain and swelling can move from joint to joint, a condition known as migratory arthritis.

People with untreated Lyme disease also can develop neurological problems. These include meningitis, Bell’s palsy (facial nerve paralysis), and numbness and weakness in the arms and legs. These problems can persist for months, even years, in an untreated infection, and can be very debilitating. Some people also develop an irregular heartbeat, eye problems, hepatitis and very severe chronic fatigue.

Take Precautions

You may be bitten by a deer tick and not even know it because it doesn’t hurt or sting. The tick attaches to your skin and eventually the Lyme disease bacteria will get into your bloodstream. This usually takes 48 hours. Common sense precautions include wearing protective clothing when in wooded/grassy areas and using a tick repellant containing a strong concentration of DEET —10 to 30%. Oil of lemon eucalyptus can also be used as a preventive. Do not use these products on children under the age of 3.

Checking yourself for ticks after possible exposure and removing the tick greatly lessens your chance of getting Lyme disease. Just grasp the tick with tweezers and remove as much of it as possible. Lastly, maintaining your yard by keeping the grass mowed and brush trimmed will keep the tick population down.

Your pets are also at risk for deer tick bites, and they should be checked carefully for ticks and/or a rash after being outdoors. Also, there have been cases of Lyme disease where people weren’t in the woods or grassy areas, so be aware of your risk just spending time outdoors.

Using these precautions and preventive strategies, you greatly reduce your chance of getting a deer tick bite and developing Lyme disease. If you are bitten by a tick, you now know what the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease are and can seek early medical attention to prevent the serious complications of the disease.

So, enjoy this summer and the great outdoors to the fullest…and protect yourself against Lyme disease!

By Lisa Forgione, MD

[Ed. Note: Lisa Forgione, MD, is an Emergency Medicine Physician, a Diplomate of ABFM and a Member of AAFP and NCAFP.  She has received several Physicians Recognition Awards for teaching from the AMA and AAFP.  Dr. Forgione was recently selected as one of the Top Family Doctors of 2009 by the Consumers’ Research Council of America.]

Source:  True Health Is True Wealth  

Posted: Just One More Pet


May 15, 2009 - Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Another thing you can do to protect yourself is to get Damminix Tick Tubes and spread them around your property. The tubes contain permethrin-treated nesting materials which mice collect and use, thereby getting rid of the ticks on their home turf. The tubes are ecologically friendly and really effective. They are much safer than spraying, too. I recommend them all the time. You can get them at some hardware stores or online at http://www.ticktubes.com.

    Comment by gnasherette | May 15, 2009 | Reply

  2. […] Don’t Get Ticked Off By Lyme Disease […]

    Pingback by Pet ownership falls, but Americans remain faithful to dogs, study finds « JustOneMorePet | August 14, 2012 | Reply

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