The number of reported cases of Lyme disease has tripled in the United States in recent years, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The unprecedented rise in incidence in the Northeast may be due, in part, to several factors including urban growth, better reporting, and longer periods of warmer weather. Nonetheless, the fear this summer is that we are unprepared. The best way to prevent Lyme disease, of course, is to avoid exposure to ticks. Walking in the center of trails away from wooded or bushy areas, using a skin repellent containing DEET or Permethrin, and inspecting your body, as well as your pets, right after any possible exposure, are all recommended. Any ticks found should be removed promptly and carefully with fine-tipped tweezers.
While some people may feel a burning sensation after a tick bite, many do not even notice. So it is important to be vigilant and know the signs of Lyme:
- An expanding “bull’s eye” rash may appear at the site of the tick bite
- You may also experience fever, fatigue, chills, headache, joint pain and swollen lymph nodes.
- When untreated, patients can experience worsening headache and joint pain, heart palpitations, dizziness and loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face.
If you have suspect you have been bitten by a deer tick and are concerned you may have been infected, consult with your doctor, and urgent care center or an infectious disease specialist.
There was a thorough article about safeguarding yourself and your family against ticks and mosquitoes in a recent article published in the New York Times.