Lyme Disease Awareness Month: May 2022

Tick in petri dish with scientist's tweezers

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection that humans and pets can get through the bite of an infected tick. Over 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease occur every year in the United States, and the Northeast is the global epicenter of infection. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease, deer ticks, are very small and difficult to see. They’re about the size of a pinhead when they come out in late spring and early summer.

If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to rashes, body pain (arthritis), irregular heartbeat, dizziness, and facial palsy that last for months. Lyme can be cured if treated when first detected.

Avoid Lyme disease by avoiding being bitten by ticks. Here are five tips to prevent tick bites.

1) Create a tick-free zone around your house

  • Keep your lawn well-manicured (trimmed)
  • Create a tick barrier between your lawn and taller grasses or brush
  • Eliminate mouse habitats like wood piles because ticks get Lyme disease from mice
  • Add a deer fence to protect your garden

2) Enjoy the outdoors safely

  • Avoid or limit exposure in wooded, overgrown areas.
  • Stay in the middle of marked trails when hiking.
  • Stay out of tall grass & un-cleared areas of the forest floor.

3) Protect yourself, children, and pets with protective clothing and insect repellent

  • Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants tucked into socks, and shoes.
  • Avoid going barefoot or wearing open-toe sandals/shoes.
  • Use insect repellent such as DEET on the body or Permethrin on clothes.
    • Many doctors consider these unsafe for use on children. Use discretion and consult your provider before using. Do not use on children under 3.

4) Perform tick checks after you come inside

  • Examine your body (and children and pets’ bodies) for ticks once inside. Deer ticks can be very small and are easy to miss.
  • Common sites of attachment: behind knees, underarm, scalp, navel, groin, buttocks, back.
  • Visually scan for ticks, and also feel for them. Ticks can be very small (about the size of a poppy seed!) so you may feel them before you see them.
  • Get ticks off as soon as you find them. The longer they are on you or attached (biting), the greater the risk is for Lyme.
  • Shower daily.

5) Remove ticks once found immediately by grasping them with a tweezer and pulling them off of the skin

  • The quickest way to remove a tick is with tweezers. Grasp the tick between the head of the tick and the skin and to pull firmly but gently away.
  • Removing a tick in the first 24 hours dramatically reduces the risk and is your best protection in preventing yourself from getting Lyme disease.
  • Save the removed tick in a plastic baggie so that it can be tested. You can also send a photo to the TickEncounter Resource Center.

Using these five tips to prevent Lyme disease can help you enjoy the out of doors safely, help you to avoid tick bites, and help you to avoid getting Lyme disease.

If you miss an infected tick and it bites, you may develop a circular, “bull’s-eye” rash around the bite. [insert image]. Other rash shapes may also present during the early stages of Lyme. If you find a tick and/or this telltale rash, see your healthcare provider or Urgent Care right away. They will likely prescribe you oral antibiotics that will clear early stage Lyme disease.

If you have been bitten by a tick, have a rash or other typical Lyme disease symptoms, or have any questions, contact your provider: (845) 563-8000.