The Centers for Disease Control reports that cases of Lyme disease are up this year by five to ten percent. If you are doing outdoor activities such as taking walks in the woods or working in the yard, here are a few facts you need to know:
- First, you should be especially careful if you live in one of the areas where Lyme disease is found the most: From Maine to northern Virginia in the Northeast; in Wisconsin and Minnesota; and in northern California.
- You should be aware that the deer ticks that carry the disease can be hiding in moist, shaded, wooded areas, and in piles of leaves.
- You should take precautions by covering your legs and arms before you go for a walk in a wooded area. Tuck your pants into your socks, and if you're working in the yard with leaves, the CDC suggests that you wear high rubber boots because ticks can't hook onto them.
- Be sure to examine yourself immediately when you come indoors. If you can find and remove a deer tick within 36 hours, your chances of getting infected are very low.
- Symptoms of Lyme disease include a bull's eye-like mark around the area where the tick has bitten you - that is, a lighter circle with an irritated, reddish ring around it. You may also get a rash followed by flu-like symptoms, such as fever, joint pain, and headache.
Highlighted areas show where Lyme disease is most prevalent.
If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to chronic arthritis, nerve and heart dysfunction. If you experience any symptoms, see a doctor as soon as possible.
Even in the late winter, as the season heads into early spring, you can still come into contact with a tick.
Reported By Dr. Emily Senay