Look Out for Lyme Disease

Submitted by SharpHealth Team on Monday 11th October 2010
In this article
  • What is Lyme Disease?
  • What are the symptoms?
  • How can you prevent it?

You might think that only rural SharpMen are at risk for Lyme disease, but it has been diagnosed in all parts of the country, and on all the continents (OK, no, not Antarctica). It seems to be most prevalent on the East Coast, however; in fact, it gets its name from the town where it was first identified: Old Lyme, Connecticut.

What is Lyme disease, anyway?

It’s an infection caused by bacterium spread through a tick bite, notably the deer tick. While cases are reported throughout the year, the disease is most often contracted in late spring/early summer. This time of year, the deer tick is only the size of a poppy seed.

What are the symptoms?

Lyme Disease is often called "The Great Imitator," because it mimics symptoms of all kinds of other diseases, sometimes baffling doctors. The most typical symptom is a circular rash, which starts around the area of the bite, typically a few days to several weeks after the tick bite. Other symptoms include flu-like symptoms, such as head and muscle aches, fatigue, and vomiting.

How can it be prevented?

If possible, stay away from tick-infested areas such as deep woods, tall grasses and brush. If you can’t avoid these areas, wear a hat, long sleeves and (even though this will clearly not look Sharp) tuck your pants into your socks. Wear light-colored clothes to make tick detection easier. And most importantly, do a head-to-toe tick check — in the buff — afterwards.

What do you do if you find a tick?

An unattached tick can be easily removed. It is crucial, however, to remove an attached tick properly. Using tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, pull the tick slowly and firmly straight out. Apply antiseptic, and save the tick for your physician.

Unfortunately, testing for Lyme disease is not yet an exact science. It is common to get both false positives or negatives.

What NOT to do.

If see a tick, don’t squeeze it. You may inadvertently inject the bacteria into your skin. Similarly, if you twist it, you might cause the head to break off. Also, applying a hot match or alcohol will only increase the risk of bacterial injection.

For more information about Lyme Disease, visit: http://www.lymedisease.org/.

For further reading on this disease (for those with plenty of time on their hands, that is), check out Coping with Lyme Disease: A Practical Guide to Dealing With Diagnosis and Treatment by Denise Lang, Denise V. Lant and Joseph Territo M.D. ($11.96). LINK

This article last updated on Monday 11th October 2010
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