May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month
May 02, 2013
DELAWARE, Oh. – In recognition of Lyme Disease Awareness month, the Delaware General Health District reminds the Delaware County community to take the steps necessary to protect themselves against the common tickborne disease.
Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vectorborne illness (disease transmitted to humans by ticks, mosquitoes or fleas) in the United States. Children are most at risk for the disease because they spend more time playing outdoors and in high grass, leaves or woods, where the ticks are found.
Lyme disease is transmitted to people through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. While most ticks are active during May through July, blacklegged ticks are active year round. For this reason, it's especially important that people living in affected regions take steps now to prevent Lyme disease when they go outside.
To prevent Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases, DGHD recommends that people:
- Avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter and walk in the center of trails when hiking.
- Wear light-colored clothing to make the ticks easier to spot. Tuck pants into your socks.
- Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours. Parents should apply repellent to children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends products with up to 30 percent DEET for kids, but be sure to follow the label instructions for use.
- Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents or look for clothing pre-treated with permethrin. Again be sure to follow the label.
- Shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off and more easily find crawling ticks before they bite you.
- Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon returning from tick-infested areas. Parents should help children check thoroughly for ticks.
- If you find a tick attached to your skin, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp it near the skin and pull steadily until it is removed. Never use a lighted match or other means to remove a tick.
- Wash the bite site with soap and water. If a rash develops, see your doctor
Typical symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a large, expanding skin rash that may have a bull's-eye appearance. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Anyone who develops a fever or a rash after being bitten by a tick or spending time in tick-infested areas should seek prompt medical care. Most patients with Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics.
If you find a live tick and would like to have it identified, contact the OSU Extension - Delaware County office at 740-833-2030.