Lyme Disease – Can Tiny Tick Bite Really Ruin Your Holiday?

by Dorothy Yamich

Vacationers, campers, and travelers alike can be at risk for contracting Lyme disease, a serious, debilitating condition caused by being bitten by an infected tick.

What are the common symptoms of Lyme disease?

Some symptoms of Lyme disease are the classic bull’s-eye red rash, fatigue or loss of energy, feeling sleepy, tingling and numbness, swollen and painful joints, memory loss, and feeling like you are catching the flu. Facial paralysis is a less common symptom.

Lyme disease can make your life miserable and cause you a lot of pain and suffering if it’s not diagnosed and treated right away. The longer you wait before seeing a health professional allows this disease to progress quickly and it may not be possible to lessen it’s effects.

How is Lyme disease most commonly spread?

Ticks bite and feed on animals such as mice, other small rodents, and deer. If any of these animals are carrying the Lyme disease bacteria, they can pass the bacteria on to the ticks. When people are bitten by an infected tick they may contract Lyme disease.

What steps can you take to reduce the chance of getting Lyme disease?

Since some people do not notice any symptoms for a period of time, prevention is always the best policy. When you are traveling through the spring and summer months to, or through areas where deer, mice, other rodents and animals reside, the following are some things that you can do.

If you are camping on vacation or holidays, you can limit the number of ticks around your campsite by reducing the brush and leaves debris. Wear light colored clothing so you can more easily see these very tiny black insects and remove them before they attach to your skin. Be sure you wear long-sleeved shirts and tuck them into your pants. Also tuck your pant cuffs into your socks. It is also a good idea to wear rubber boots as ticks are usually found close to the ground. However, you can also get them in your hair if you brush against leaves on a low tree branch. Wearing a light-colored, wide-brimmed hat may help. Be sure to check your skin and scalp carefully as ticks can easily be overlooked, especially in your hair. Applying a DEET containing insect repellent to your clothes and exposed skin, as well as applying the insecticide permethrin to your clothes will also help.

How can you safely remove ticks?

Ticks that have burrowed and embedded themselves underneath your skin can be removed by using a small-tipped tweezers. Do not leave any part of the tick remaining under your skin. When the tick has been totally removed, disinfect the wound thoroughly with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. Keep in mind that you are not totally out of the woods yet, so to speak, as the symptoms can take a number of days or weeks before they show. Using tweezers is the only safe way to remove ticks from under your skin or scalp. Don’t try to remove any ticks by using burnt matches, petroleum jelly, or alcohol as this will aggravate them, causing them to release more of the bacteria into your blood stream.

Please note that at the present time there is no vaccine available for Lyme disease.

According to the Center For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) this bacterial disease is vastly under reported, perhaps by well over 100,000 cases per year in the U.S. alone. You can go to their website at cdc.gov for more information on Lyme disease.

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