Every year when the warm weather comes and people are looking to escape cabin fever and hit the outdoors, you hear about Lyme Disease. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria is transmitted to humans when bitten by a blacklegged or deer tick. This does not mean that all ticks carry the bacteria, they must also be infected.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an infection that can happen after a tick bite. One of the hallmark signs is a large, red “bulls-eye” lesion around where the tick had bitten you. This appears in 70-80% of infected people and occurs within the first 3-30 days, with the average being 7 days. This can be accompanied with fever, chills, and body aches. If not promptly treated, Lyme disease can have more serious and lasting effects. It can cause arthritis of multiple joints, irregular heart beats, and nerve damage among many other things.
If you have been bitten by a tick and experience any of the above symptoms, you should promptly seek medical attention. If you are able to save the tick that bit you, it will help the doctor to identify the type of tick and possibly send it out for testing. Blood-work will be taken to test for the bacteria. If you test positive for Lyme disease, you will be started on antibiotics, most commonly Doxycyline. Ticks can also carry many other bacteria and sometimes a secondary infection of the skin also occurs. Skin infection is characterized by a warm, swollen, red, oozing, and sometimes painful area. If you experience any of these signs, you should also seek medical attention.
- Wear hats and long pants/sleeves when in tall grass, around trees, or hiking
- After being in the outdoors, grab a buddy and do a tick check
- Remove and wash clothes immediately
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible
- Use insect repellent that is also active against ticks
Have a fun but safe summer and avoid ticks! When walking in tall grass, your foot and ankles are a common place for tick bites. If you think you have been bitten in either of these places by a tick, call Hollowbrook Foot Specialists today at (845) 298-9074 for an appointment. We are serving the Hudson Valley from Wappingers Falls.