Lyme Disease

It’s summertime in Minnesota! And while this means the return of lakes, bonfires, and fun outdoors, it also means the return of ticks. Believe it or not, Minnesota ranks 7th in the nation for cases of tick borne diseases from 2004-2016. Within that same time period, the number of diseases caused by infected mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas have tripled in the United States. Ticks and the diseases they cause are a real worry for most Minnesotans, so it is important to be informed about what they are and how you can prevent them.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is actually caused by the bacterium known as Borrelia burgdorferi that is spread to humans through the bite of an infected tick. Some symptoms to watch out for are fever, tiredness, and headache, as well as the characteristic “bull’s-eye rash.” If it’s caught early, most cases can be treated with a course of antibiotics. If left untreated, however, it can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system. So the key to Lyme disease is prevention!

So what can I do to prevent tick bites?

· Avoid wooded areas with high grass present

· Wear long sleeve shirts or pants when in wooded areas and tuck your pants into your socks

· Regularly check family members and friends for ticks, paying special attention to their hair, underarms, waist, and knees

· While pets can’t spread Lyme disease directly, they can be a great way for ticks to hitch a ride into your house, so it’s important to check them regularly too

Well I found a tick on me, now what?

· KEY: remove the tick as quickly as possible

· Use a tweezers to grip the tick as close to the skin as possible, and pull upwards with steady pressure

· Clean the bite and your hands with soap and water or rubbing alcohol

· To get rid of the tick, you can flush it down the toilet, put it in alcohol, or wrap it in a sealed container

· Avoid crushing the tick with your fingers

*While it may seem easier to try and remove the tick with other methods such as applying nail polish, petroleum, or using heat to cause it to come off--it is not recommended. Remember, the key is to remove the tick as soon as you spot it and don’t wait for it to come off on its own.

Sources:

CDC “Illnesses from Mosquito, Tick, and Flea Bites Increasing in the US” Available at https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0501-vs-vector-borne.html

MN Department of Health “Lyme Disease Basics” Available at

http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/lyme/basics.html#transmission

CDC “Lyme Disease” Available at https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html