Lyme Disease — Protect Yourself!
Lyme disease, the bacterial infection transmitted mainly through deer ticks, causes serious health problems involving the skin, joints, nervous system, heart and eyes. It is most common in the northeastern United States but has been reported in almost every state. In Ohio reported more than 500 cases in the last 10 years, but the actual incidence is probably much higher, according to the American Lyme Disease Foundation.
Ticks are abundant in wooded areas; therefore, hikers and other outdoaors enthusiasts are at risk for contracting Lyme disease. There is no need to avoid the great outdoors. Take the following precautions to protect yourself from tick bites:
Check with the American Lyme Disease Foundation or logging onto its web site for information regarding danger in your area.
- Stay in open spaces or on well-maintained trails. Ticks tend to live in low bushes and grass.
- Wear protective clothing: tuck pants legs into socks and shirts into pants. Light-colored clothing will reveal ticks more easily.
- Use an insect repellent that contains the compound DEET (diethyltoluamide), and apply a repellent called permethrin to clothing.
- After spending time outdoors, examine your body for ticks while showering.
- If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers. Do not cover it with petroleum jelly or nail polish as this could cause the tick to inject bacteria into you. Transmission is unlikely unless the tick has been on your body for more than 48 hours.
- Watch for early signs of Lyme disease and see a doctor if you notice a “bulls-eye” mark or enlarging rash within three to 32 days.
If you are unsure, visit one of the Health Alliance’s emergency rooms, or consult your physician.
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