Since 2004, the number of people with a tick-related disease has more than doubled. It’s estimated there are 300,000 Americans that get Lyme Disease each year.
So why is the disease spreading faster than ever before? Chalk it up to climate changes and increased travel among tick-infested states. As well as growth in tick-hosting animal populations.
Better awareness of the disease is crucial for proper prevention and diagnosis. So, read on for 8 things you need to know about Lyme Disease.
1. It Gets Spread by Ticks
It’s important to note that not all ticks carry Lyme Disease. For a person to get the disease, they have to get bit by an infected tick. The disease then spreads from a bacteria called, Borrelia Bergdorferi.
Ticks live in wooded areas, often entering into people’s backyards. They crawl from plants to trees looking for a host to attach to. This means you, your pets, and your family members are all at risk.
Wearing insect repellant and spraying pesticides can help keep ticks at bay. It also helps to learn a few landscaping techniques. This includes using rocks and wood chips in backyards to keep ticks from traveling.
The tick population is always worse in the spring and summer. Yet, they can also infect people during the fall months.
2. It Affects Some People More Than Others
Where you live and where you choose to vacation can increase your risk of tick exposure. As well as what outdoor activities you enjoy doing.
Ticks enjoy environments with lots of trees and high humidity. They can also get found in areas that have a large deer population.
Lyme Disease can happen in any state, as well as around the globe. Yet, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York see the greatest number of Lyme Disease cases.
The disease originated in Lyme, Connecticut. So, residents and vacationers in this state should take preventative measures. Maine, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Minnesota also have higher than average tick populations.
Campers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts should always follow smart travel tips when in these locations. Small children are also at risk when playing outside.
3. It Takes About 36 Hours for the Disease to Spread
A tick needs to stay attached to the body for about 36 to 48 hours for it to spread the disease. This is the average time it takes for the bacteria to enter into your system.
This makes it crucial to always check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Be sure to inspect your entire area. This includes the scalp, groin, back, and under the arms.
Young ticks, called nymphs, can be much harder to see than adults. You can remove a tick using a pair of clean tweezers. Yet, make sure its entire body gets removed.
4. It Causes Flu-Like Symptoms
Lyme Disease symptoms can come on fast for some people. While other cases may take months or even years for symptoms to show up.
You may experience headaches, fever, chills, and stiffness. As well as aches and pain in the joints or muscles. Extreme fatigue is also a common sign.
A circular red rash will often show up where the bite occurred. Your lymph nodes may also become swollen as the body fights the infection.
It can also mimic symptoms from some of the worst viruses and diseases in the world. This can result in a misdiagnosis, as symptoms vary by person.
5. It May Pass from Person to Person
It’s always gotten believed that the disease can’t spread from one person to another. Yet recent research finds that it may be sexually transmitted from one infected person to another. So protected sex is crucial if a person thinks they may have Lyme Disease.
The disease cannot spread from pet to person. Yet, your pets can still get the disease and have their health affected. So, make a tick collar one of your must-have dog accessories.
6. It Can Spread to Other Areas of the Body
If left untreated, Lyme Disease can affect other areas and systems within the body. You may experience increased pain, swelling, and numbness. During later stages of the disease, it can cause damage to the joints, heart, and nervous system.
Your nerves, memory, and brain functioning can become affected. The disease can also cause arthritis or meningitis to occur.
The disease is also a hazard for pregnant women. As it can travel through the placenta and become fatal for the fetus. This makes early detection and Lyme Disease treatment especially important.
7. It Can Get Cured in a Few Weeks, When Caught Early Enough
Early detection is key in how to treat Lyme Disease. When caught in the beginning stages, you can most likely expect a full recovery. Most cases clear up in a few weeks, with proper treatment.
Testing methods often involve a physical exam and blood tests. These check to see if you’re producing antibodies. Yet, blood tests can give you a false negative if done too early on.
PET scans are another option. These often go hand in hand with a specialized treatment plan, tailored to the individual.
Oral or intravenous antibiotics get given as treatment. Anti-inflammatories may also get prescribed to bring down swelling.
So the burning question…can the disease kill you? It’s rare, but if Lyme Disease gets left untreated it can become fatal. So those suffering symptoms should seek a Lyme Disease treatment center right away.
It’s also important to note that you can get Lyme Disease more than once. Having the disease and getting teated does not make you immune.
The Importance of Lyme Disease Prevention
While many diseases offer vaccinations, Lyme Disease is not one of them. This means prevention is your best bet at avoiding getting the disease.
Preventative measures include wearing insect repellant and putting tick collars on pets. You can also wear long sleeve clothing to help protect your skin. But be sure to always give yourself a full body exam after being outdoors.
These tips are especially important in the late spring and summer months. As this is when ticks are at their worst. Better awareness of the tick anatomy and their living habits can help keep you safe.