Summer marks the return of ticks and, with them, the risk of Lyme disease. Stay protected this summer by getting the facts on ticks and Lyme disease and, of course, use a some recommended bug repellent.
Five facts about ticks and Lyme disease:
1. Tick Removal
Remove a tick using fine-tipped tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Using the tweezers, pull the tick upward with consistent pressure. Twisting or jerking the tick may cause the tick’s mouth to break off. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using a rubbing alcohol, iodine scrub or soap and water. Submerse the tick in alcohol, place it in a sealed container, wrap it with tape or flush it down the toilet. The CDC says to never crush a tick with your fingers and to avoid folklore remedies, like applying nail polish to the tick or using heat to make it detach.
2. Lyme Disease Transmission
Lyme disease spreads through the bites of infected ticks. Western blacklegged ticks spread Lyme disease along the Pacific Coast; blacklegged ticks spread Lyme disease in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic and north-central United States. A tick has to be attached for 36-48 hours in order to transmit Lyme disease bacterium, according to the CDC. Lone star ticks, American dog ticks, Rocky Mountain wood ticks and brown dog ticks are not known to spread Lyme disease.
3. Lyme Disease Symptoms
Symptoms of Lyme disease 3-30 days after a tick bite may include fever, chills, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes and rashes. Lyme disease rashes may vary. The classic Lyme disease rash is a circular red rash with a central clearing that slowly expands. The CDC has a complete list of Lyme disease rashes.
4. Lyme Disease Statistics
A 2005-2010 CDC study of clinician-diagnosed Lyme disease estimated 296,000-376,000 cases of Lyme disease annually in the United States.
5. Preventing Tick Bites
To prevent tick bites, the CDC recommends avoiding wooded areas with high grass and walking in the center of trails. Tick repellents should contain 20-30 percent DEET (N-N-diethyl-m-toluamide) and be used on exposed skin and clothing. Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin.