Take Precautions to Prevent Lyme Disease
It isn’t just for your dog. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 66 people in D.C. were confirmed to have Lyme disease in 2016 with another 37 people receiving a “probable” diagnosis. What does this mean for you and your family? It means you need to be tick savvy to prevent the probability of contracting the illness. After all, you can’t put drops on the back of your neck once a month to control ticks like you do with Fido and Fluffy, so keep reading to learn more Lyme disease.
According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, Lyme disease is “a bacterial infection that is spread through the bite of one or several types of ticks.” Specifically, Borrelia burgdorferi (B burgdorferi) – now, that is a mouthful – is the possibly deadly culprit. Blacklegged, or deer ticks, are the creepy crawlers that carry B burgdorferi, and they get it from mice. If a mouse off which they feed is infected with the Lyme-disease-causing bacteria, the tick then becomes the bacteria’s next host.
If you, a family member or pet is bitten by an adult tick, there is little difficulty seeing the pest. Nymphs, or immature ticks, are often too small to see, however. The size of a pinhead, you might not know you have one attached to you until it is too late. If the nymph is infected with B burgdorferi, and if it has been feeding off your blood for 24 to 36 hours, there is a good chance the bacteria has had time to enter your bloodstream. This is why prevention is the best medicine.
Quick side history fact: Lyme disease got its name from its origin. The first case of the illness in the United States occurred in Old Lyme, Conn. in 1977. Lyme disease isn’t found only in the U.S. Those in Asia and Europe must also be careful of contracting this devastating illness. Heading back home, however, those in the U.S. most at risk live in the northeast from Virginia to Maine, the northwest and Minnesota and Wisconsin. Ticks love the humid climate of these areas.
There are three stages to this illness, and you enter into the first stage once you have been bitten, feasted upon and the bacteria has entered your system, but not yet spread throughout your body. Medical professionals call stage two “early-disseminated Lyme disease and this is when the bacteria begin to spread in your system. Stage three is late-disseminated Lyme disease, and this means the bacteria have spread and you have a life-threatening infection that you must now fight.
Now, keep in mind most people don’t get Lyme disease from a tick bite. The tick itself must be infected. This being said, you should still check with your local insurance agents to make certain you have enough medical coverage to cover the bills in the event you or someone in your family does get infected. Treatment can be intensive depending on the stage of the disease, so your first step in prevention is to ensure your medical coverage is as good as your automobile and homeowner’s policies.
In addition, when you take into account how people pick up ticks, you can prevent them. The most common ways people suffer from tick bites is from their pets, gardening, hiking, hunting or walking through tall foliage. Ticks live in moist, grassy climates, so you should never walk through or stick your hands into these areas without tucking your pants into your socks or wearing long sleeves tucked into gloves. Keep your pets on tick control medicine to prevent them from bringing ticks into your home.
Now you know what you need to know about ticks and Lyme disease. Prevention is the best medicine, so avoid bites by keeping you and your family – including Fido and Fluffy – safe from ticks.
Article by Daniel Bailey