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Springtime Lyme disease precautions

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by Judith A. Weeg/President Lyme Disease United Coalition
Ticks, mosquitoes, biting flies, fleas and mites are capable of carrying Borrelia burgdorferi, or, as it’s more commonly known, Lyme disease.
Dr. Paul Meade, of the Centers for Disease Control, called Lyme disease an “epidemic” at a 2010 Institute of Medicine meeting.
“Transmission from ticks appears to be the most common and important method of transmission, perhaps because ticks have a salivary protein called Salp 15, which the Borrelia attaches to and is thought to have immuno suppressive effects,” University of Hawaii researcher Tina Carvallo said in a recent study. “Following transmission, Borrelia can travel through the body quite rapidly, including into the central nervous system.”
What are the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease?
Remember, there are two stages of the disease – early stage and late stage.
Early stage – curable
• Symptoms may appear from four hours to several weeks after an infected tick, mosquito, biting fly, flea or mite bites.
• Symptoms are flu-like – fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headache, fever, chills, swollen glands, sore throat and stiff neck. Symptoms may move around the body with the only consistency being a lack of consistency. There may be flu-like symptoms one day, and fatigue or muscle and joint pain a few days later.
• Only one-third of infected people may have a rash or a bull’s eye rash. Take a photo of the rash to show your doctor. A rash may come and go.
Late stage (chronic Lyme) – incurable
• These symptoms may occur weeks, months and even years after the bite, and the symptoms may come and go. Peak disease is associated with increasing numbers of spirochetes in the tissues while regression follows the antibody response.  It is very cyclic and fluctuates in intensity so that symptoms are present on some days and not on others.
Symptoms include:
• Continued flu-like symptoms with swollen glands and low-grade fevers
• Depression or psychiatric disorders
• Sensitivity to lights, sounds, motion, odors, blurred vision or loss of sight
• Cognitive dysfunction, difficulty organizing or making decisions and memory loss
• Muscle pain, weakness, numbness, tingling, motor dysfunction and paralysis
• Stiff neck, severe headaches, loss of balance, dizziness, poor coordination and Bell’s Palsy (facial drooping)
• Irregular heartbeat, palpitations, heart block, chest pain and difficulty breathing
• Tremors, seizures, panic attacks, anxiety, sleep disorders and swollen joints
• Possible death without continued treatment
Prevention
Parents, do a daily tick check on children and pets who play in the yard.
• Perform frequent, thorough tick checks – especially the scalp area.
• Wear light-colored clothes.
• Tuck pants into socks or put duct tape around the cuffs.
• Put clothes into dryer for 30 minutes to kill ticks; washing clothes will not kill ticks.
• There are products containing DEET for skin – children 2 months old and older, use a 10 percent concentration but do not apply to face or hands; adults use 12 to 25 percent maximum.
• There are products containing Permethrin for clothes, but do not use on children. It is a very effective product for adults and recommended for hunters. Consider using new DEET free repellents. The repellents are available by calling 1(800) 219-9765, and provide 8 hours of effectiveness (ask for Beat It bug spray).
Tick removal
• Don’t grasp, squeeze or twist the body of tick.
• Do not burn or use any substance on ticks.
• Grasp tick’s head close to skin with tweezers and pull tick straight out.
• See a physician if unable to remove the whole tick.
• Use antiseptic on skin.
• Disinfect tweezers.
• Wash hands thoroughly.
• Always see a physician for possible diagnosis, testing and treatment, and watch for flu-like symptoms or rashes.
Hunters
Hunters should be aware of additional precautions needed to avoid contact from ticks on game.
• Remove game from field with a tarp.
• Hang game over bleach solution for ticks to fall into.
• Wear plastic apron and gloves when cleaning game.
• Freeze game immediately.
For more information, contact the Lyme Disease United Coalition by calling (800) 311-7518 or email Lymeinfo@lduc.org.